Book Review: Sparrow in the Mirror

Chris is back at it again with more reviews coming your way. He has also been working hard on his new blog This & That Books which you should go check out. This time, he read Sparrow in the Mirror by Kunal Narayan Uniyal.

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Look at that composited artwork on the cover, a bird with birds within it, fading at a wingtip into dark vagueness, smaller version trailing along like an image echo. This is a cover of a book of poems. To me, the cover reflects the poems within this book.

Like the birds within the birds, there are definite themes that reoccur and are layered such as the ones on spirituality and religion. Hindu religion and the Veddas, Christianity and the Bible, mixing of both together. There are the themes on life, on pain, on suffering, on death, on redemption, on egos, of the release that lies beyond death, on love, on the transience of life and our works. At times the words are stark with only one meaning, other times they fade into the dark like the wingtip on the cover, leaving you to fill in meaning from your own experience, making the poems more personal to you.

From a technical standpoint, rhythm varies, is free-verse at times, mixed with a rhyming couplet that emphasizes points. Some lines stand almost in contrapuntal harmony with two melodies being played, but working together in the same song.  The cadence of some of the poems reminded me of songs by Natalie Merchant, e.g., Merchant’s Ophelia with Uniyal’s Maya.

There’s an excellent use of repetition such as you see in poems by T.S. Eliot and Walt Whitman. It can be done throughout the poem such as in Uniyal’s poem Something Is Not Right, where the title is repeated at the end of each verse on separate occasions; or in one line such as this part in the Wheel of Time

Standing in that lonely hall with those words

Resounding hard and hard and hard

I’m alone, came so; will leave the world even so.

Google repetition and T.S. Eliot or repetition in poetry to see how this common poetry device is used to reach the reader.

So, how well did the use of structure, of phrasing, of poetry devices like repetition, of ambiguity, of hidden meanings that echo back upon themselves to produce harmony (like a Bach fugue—which is just a more complicated version of four groups singing Row Row Row Your Boat as a round) come together?

Quite well. Some poems I read several times, I memorized parts that spoke to me. The poem Mother made my eyes sting a bit (“I’m not crying, you’re crying!”).

The Wheel of Time,

I try creating my life, new structures of delight,

But alas! With my return, all are turned into rubbles

Worth not a single dime.

Who created it, which destroyed my vast stride,

My ego or the wheel of time?

reminded me of Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley where the following words are carved into a base of a crumbled decaying giant statue that once would have been awe and fear-inspiring, but now turned into rubble.

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

We read this Bysshe poem in middle school and it almost precipitated an existential crisis in me as I realized even great works will erode away, and I, myself, will one day not exist. I had an echo of that feeling with Wheel of Time although in this case I’m fine with one day not existing (but not quite yet please because that TBR pile isn’t going to reduce itself).

Another poem Search of Life was thought-provoking with several meanings built one on top of the other that you’d only see upon subsequent readings.

Other poems, like House, are simple in their meanings, but convey a sorrow of things lost.

Now that the houses are big, hearts are small.

There are rooms everywhere, but hardly a place for all.

Doors are now locked tight, even God

Needs to try hard to squeeze in

Each confined to its own world,

Calling it house which was home before.

The appreciation of poetry is a subjective thing, perhaps far more so than other books. This makes them harder to rate as we each bring our own interpretations to the verses. As mentioned earlier, when we bring in our own interpretations, we bring in part of ourselves into the poetry so that we connect with it. That connection is an indication of poetry done well.

This book of poems connected with me. I think it was done well. I will be rereading many of these poems again. I hope other readers will also find a connection to these poems.

Book Rating: 5/5


In the mood for a fun western story? Check out Billy (The Kid) by Peter Meech and satisfy that craving!

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Pueblo, Colorado,1932. Bootleggers thrive in a town where the sheriff is on the take and you can kill a man with impunity. In this thrilling narrative, a once-famous outlaw finds himself thrust into the middle of a bootleg war against his will. At stake is nothing less than the life of his best friend and his last chance at true love with the town beauty. But is the legendary gunman who he claims to be, or is he just a retired dentist with a vivid imagination? Peter Meech reimagines the figure of Billy the Kid in a remarkable story told with verve, humor, grit and grace.

About the author: Peter Meech is an author, screenwriter, director and producer. He also mugs for the camera on occasion. His website is www.petermeech.com.



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I left my reading fate in my boyfriend’s hands and let him pick all the books I will be reading in June! Check out the video below:

Book Review: Saga Vol 2-5

I love me some graphic novels!! And I read the first one of the Saga series a long time ago but remember loving it so it was about time I got back into the series. Markus bought me Saga Volumes 2 to 5 for Christmas and I can tell you that I read through all of these so fast!

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I will try and give one synopsis since this review post is entailing 4 volumes but essentially it is about 2 people from different races (their races are at war with each other) that fall in love and have a child together. They are constantly on the run since they are being pursued by both sides for committing the crime of being with someone of the opposite race in an affectionate manner. Also, it is set on multiple planets and in space so there is that!

Jumping back into this series was like a breath of fresh air. It feels so good to read these graphic novels because they have everything you could ask for: intense action sequences, family drama, political intrigue and random bouts of vulgarity that brings lots of laughter every time I encounter it. Plus they never let up on entering new characters into the series (probably because not a lot of them last that long, real Game of Thrones vibes).

The entire storyline is told in a narration style of the child as they are growing up. It’s a very cool perspective that unravels in the kind of innocence a small child would have when this story is anything but innocent. They don’t squander away from any of the explicit scenes which is another reason why it is so great. Those scenes are short and fun but they keep it real to benefit their audience and give it that authenticity that makes this series so popular.

If you haven’t heard of saga then you need to check it out! They are made by Image Comics and I feel like it is an underrated series that needs a little more spotlight!

Book Ratings:

Volume 2: 5/5
Volume 3: 5/5
Volume 4: 4/5
Volume 5: 4/5

You can buy these books on Amazon and find them on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: These books were given to me as a gift and I read and reviewed them because I wanted to. I was not compensated in any way for this review.



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

This video was so much fun to film! It’s the book version of “Kiss, Marry, Kill”. If you haven’t done this yet, I suggest you try. It was hard! So many books I love. It was like The Hunger Games book edition LOL. 

Book Review: Cyclops – A Pirate’s Life For Me

Hey bookworms! It has been a while! And by that, I mean about a week. I have been reading like crazy and am behind in writing reviews because I have about 3 in the queue right now. My latest read was a Cyclops (from the X-men) graphic novel called A Pirate’s Life For Me.

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Synopsis: RESCUED! But by whom? And is it really a rescue…or does this put Scott at greater risk than before? And what bounty are they hunting? Lots of shooting and things blowing up! The bad news: the Starjammers are about to die! The good news: Cyclops is no longer a Starjammer. Scott Summers is aboard a new space pirate ship, with a cruel, cutthroat captain, and a crew of criminals and killers. None of them trust Scott– and a few just might want to kill him! But, hey, that Captain’s daughter is kinda cute, right?

Comicbook reviews are always short and sweet so I will keep the tradition with this one. I really enjoyed seeing Cyclops as a kid and bonding with his father.  And space pirates?! I mean that is pretty awesome.

I do have one question though….where was Alex? You know, his younger brother?

The graphic novel had a pretty good pace and kept me interested. I thought it was for a pretty young audience until that ending which surprised me. I can honestly say that I dd not expect it to take the turn it did.

I believe Cyclops is a pretty underrated X-men and deserves more respect considering he is powerful enough to blow a hole through a mountain. SO getting a comic just centered on him and his struggles was fun and enjoyable.

I would say to pick this one up if you want a quick read about adventure and space pirates!

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I bought this graphic novel with my own money and read it because I wanted to.


If you want to see the rest of the books on my shelves, check out this bookshelf tour! This is part 2. Part one can be found on my youtube channel! Let me know if we have any of the same books!

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Book Review: Sons of Ares

For all of you that know me, Red Rising is my all-time favorite book. The graphic novel came out a while ago and I never got around to purchasing it. Lucky for me, Markus got it for me as a present for my birthday! It is a prequel graphic novel to the series called Red Rising: Sons of Ares by Pierce Brown.

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Synopsis: In the future, when mankind has spread across the stars, the hierarchy of man is dictated by the color of one’s caste. The Golds rule all, but what will happen when one falls for a lowly Red? See how a forbidden love will set the course of events for the future and lead to the formation of the formidable Sons of Ares!

It was really good. I enjoyed the prequel in how it was written and how it explained certain things that were not revealed in the book series. It gave just enough backstory to show you how some characters came to be and it was done in a visually pleasing way.

I will say the art style was not my favorite. I feel like this could have been much more intense if it was drawn by different artists. Nothing against the art style done here, I just feel like it could have been conveyed better if it was drawn by some other artists I prefer that draw for Marvel and DC. This is purely my personal preference.

Learning about Ares was fun because he is a pivotal character and his actions will set a pace for the rest of the series. Plus it answers questions that I have been asking since I finished the main trilogy.

Overall, it was a great prequel graphic novel and I would read more graphic novels about the Red Rising series because I just can’t get enough of this amazing world created by Pierce Brown.

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was purchased for me as a gift and I read it because I wanted to. I was in no way compensated for my honest review.


It is finally September and I completed my NEWTS TBR but until I make that video, here is my September TBR where I talk about the books I will be reading this month and announce my giveaway winner!

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Book Spotlight: Awakening

If you loved The Starlight Chronicles, then this graphic novel version of Awakening: A Christmas Episode, will make a really fun addition to your collection. You can also try an win yourself a copy below!

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Awakening: A Christmas Episode

Illustrator: Eko Bambang

Publication Date: April 25th, 2019

Genre: Graphic Novel/ Urban Fantasy

Length: 72 Pages

Christmas is a time for miracles, but miracles have always bothered Hamilton Dinger.

This Christmas Eve, he has only two reasons to be cheerful: Rachel’s Café is open late, and he has a special present for Gwen Kessler. So even if he has to sit through a session of Grandpa Odd’s ramblings, he knows he’ll have some holiday mocha and a chance at finally telling Gwen how he feels about her. His fledgling hope is lost the moment when a new demon monster begins attacking the Star of Hope. Now, not only does Hamilton have to transform into his city superhero self to fight it, he has to deal with Starry Knight, too. Can Hamilton find a new reason for hope this holiday, or is it too much to ask for one more Christmas miracle?

Find out in this short story set between the Book 1 and Book 2 of the Starlight Chronicles from C. S. Johnson, now with illustrations by comics artist Eko Bambang.

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Sample

Available on Amazon

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For your chance to win a copy of this graphic novel, click the link below!

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About the Author

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C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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I know I said I was on a book buying ban but here are all the books I got for my birthday!

Also for all you fantasy lovers out there, my friend Moud Adel (author of the War Remnants which I reviewed in July) has created this new game called Majority Rules where you get to decide what happens in his fantasy story. You will read the story and then vote in a poll for what you want the next scene to be. YOU take control and YOU make the decisions. Every Thursday, there will be new scene options so it is a continuous game! Check it out by clicking on the image below!

Join the game:

https://mastoperia.com/majority-rules/

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Book Highlight: Good Writing Is Like Good Sex

Welcome to the blog tour for Good Writing is Like Good Sex: Sort of Sexy Thoughts on Writing. This cheeky and handy writing guide is by C.S. Johnson, and if you read through to the end, you can try to win a copy of your very own!

Good Writing

Good Writing is Like Good Sex: Sort of Sexy Thoughts on Writing

Publication Date: March 31st, 2019

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Writing Guide

What makes a book sexy?

I’m not talking about erotica, per say, but what is the difference between a book you eagerly devour and a book you slum your way through?

While there are individual exceptions, the most objective difference between a good story and a downright terrible one is simple—it all comes down to the writing.

It’s either good writing, and we can forgive the technical flaws a little more easily, or it’s bad writing, and bad writing is just bad.

Good writing is more than just good writing.
Good writing is sexy.

If you’re a fiction writer looking to improve your writing skills, this is the perfect, provocative read to encourage you to get down to business and write your story.

Inside Good Writing is Like Good Sex, you will find:

• A titillating perspective on the writing process
• The secret to why your story is special, and how you can make it sexier
• Tips on romancing your readers
• How to write irresistible characters
• Basic writing and story concepts with advanced insights

… and all in a non-gratuitous fashion with a lot of innuendos.

Add to Goodreads

Available on Amazon!

Click the link below for your chance to win a print copy of the book (U.S. Only)

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About the Author

Author-CS-Johnson

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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I finally got around to doing the Mid Year Book Freakout tag and talk about the best and worst books I have read in the first half of 2019.

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Book Review: Roses in December

OMG Bookworms! I go to Ireland tomorrow. I am so freaking excited. I did a lot of reading this week to get my OWLS in for the Magical Readathon. So far I have completed Defense Against The Dark Arts and now having completed this book, I have completed Herbology. Speaking of this book, it is called Roses in December: Haunting and Macabre Tales by Matthew De Lacey Davidson.

The book Roses in December lying on a blanket

Synopsis: Roses in December is a short story collection which defies categorization. Some of the stories are haunting – others are deeply troubling.

A man receives a religious vision in his ordinary back garden; a nuclear physicist in Australia experiences a great surprise where he least expects it; a duct-tape salesman unsettles his faithful customer; Voltaire does not put his best foot forward; someone makes a grim discovery upon waking up in a prison; a psychiatrist does his best to treat a political extremist; a nineteenth-century photographer goes about his usual (and highly unusual) business; and a wealthy neighborhood in Montreal becomes the scene of an immense and avoidable tragedy.

This book was too short. I loved it and wish there was more of it to consume my time. It has over 20 short stories in it and they are all so different yet exciting. Some of them are super eerie and when you are finished you are like “heck yes, I love when they leave it with such an ominous tone”.

The last one is very sweet and I believe the author wrote it about someone very special to him. It is about life and how it moves on but we always stay connected to those that are close to us, be it family or not.

You will not get bored reading this book as each story is only 4-5 pages each and the book itself is only around 115 pages. I find that I am a big fan of short story collections and will continue to find more of these to read. Especially dark, thrilling ones.

If you like short stories then I suggest picking this one up.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and Book Depository or find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format by the author to read and give our honest review.


Is anyone taking part in the Harry Potter Magical Readathon? Here is my video showing the books I chose to read for my OWLS! Let me know in the comments if you are participating.

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Book Review: Enigma In Time

Here is the review for the second graphic novel sent to us by Bad Aura. This one was called Enigma In Time by Chris Kostecka.

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Synopsis: A speck, the size of a drop of blood, driven mad by eons of silence, filled with unimaginable power senses its missing piece on earth. It finds this essence inside an unimaginably cruel human named Gordon. It sets off toward earth traveling across the universe destroying many planets, solar systems, and civilizations along the way.

Meanwhile, on earth, Neal, a seemingly ordinary boy witnesses the suicide of his father and is traumatized by this unexpected act. A frightening man in a red shirt stands over his father’s crushed body. 

Years later Neal is adopted by a loving family and his life changes for the better.

Eventually, the speck arrives at earth. Gaea, the earth’s sworn protector, is quickly overwhelmed by the speck and its power; in the last ditch effort to save the earth she merges with the speck empowering it with a conscience. Gaea redirects it from Gordon into Neal. Enigma in Time is a story about something that should not exist but does. It is a story about Set’s rebirth.

This was quite an interesting comic book. It was kind of an origin story but then kind of not at the same time. The main character Neal keeps going in and out of time (at least I am presuming that is what is happening) throughout his life growing up.  Sometimes he is in his bedroom then all of a sudden he is in medieval times.

Many events happen throught Neal’s life that are traumatic and he plays the part of a hero in a lot of them. He has this force inside of him that is always there and he can feel it but can’t access it.

The girl/woman he loves is also experiencing this time traveling which makes me curious to know if the two of them are tangled in the same time web and if they will come to play a more prominent part in each other’s stories.

I enjoyed the graphic novel overall but I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites. The storyline gets a little confusing at times and the dialogue is very straight forward. That being said, I would be interested to see what happens in future issues as the ending insinuated that there would be more to come.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can buy this book on the Bad Aura website.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in physical format by Bad Aura to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: Hippo Ocracy

Welcome back to the blog, bookies. We have a new review for a graphic novel called Hippo Ocracy by a company called Bad Aura. They sent us two graphic novels (the other will be reviewed tomorrow) and we are more than happy because graphic novels are the best.

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Synopsis: Khipo leads the hippo kingdom with his energetic blonde hair, political savvy, and lackadaisical demeanor. Along with his rhino wife Ronda and their half-breed, pacifier sucking son Rhipo they rule with total devotion from their subjects.  Watch the insanity within his kingdom unfold as elephant royalty visits, and enemies from the past threaten to destabilize everything. All along the way, you will be introduced to fantastic over the top characters and subplots. Will the hippo’s triumph over their enemies?

Honestly, this graphic novel was hilarious. Yes, it may have been a very simple storyline that didn’t have much substance to it but it was very creative in the way it portrayed many huge media references. Such references include:

  • the hippos building a wall to keep the crocodiles out (Trump’s wall)
  • A reporter showing up during the battle called Clark Potamus (even had the classic hair swirl that Clark Kent aka Superman has)
  • The enemy crocodile leader wearing crocs to battle (this was just funny)

The hilarity even went as far as a zebra being a referee due to its obvious colors. He then gets mad and uses beavers as chainsaws to wreak havoc on the battlefield. I was laughing out loud while reading this and kept snorting while enjoying this lovable, slightly ridiculous, fun comic book. It really reminded me of Happy Tree Friends.

I would recommend this comic book to literally everyone because it gave me about 20 minutes of complete entertainment. It is a very quick read.

Book Rating: 4.5/5

You can find this book on the Bad Aura website!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by Bad Aura in physical format to read and give an honest review.

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Book review: The Mighty Thor – Lord of Asgard

Bookworms! I read a graphic novel as a little in between books break because we all need those every once and awhile. This one was called The Mighty Thor – Lord of Asgard by Dan Jurgens and Joe Bennett. This graphic novel collected Thor (1998) #44-50.

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Synopsis: Thor is called upon to fulfill his father’s legacy as lord and master of the Eternal Realm—leaving Earth’ protection in the hands of the untested Tarene! But an old foe of the Thunder God has embarked on a quest for immortality, one that may spell the end of both Midgard’s fledgling guardian and Thor’s new reign! And then it’s Thor, Lord of Asgard vs. Desak, Destroyer of Pantheons!

This review will be short and sweet because well it was a graphic novel so there is not much to say about it. I enjoy Thor as a hero but I must say that I prefer his brother Loki. He is very cunning and entertaining as he will always throw a loop into Thor’s plans which keeps the storyline flowing.

I feel like there could have been a bit more action and less narration in this comic but overall it was set up for future issues so that is understandable. The art was pretty great! I always marvel at the art in comic books. This style of art is what inspired me to go to school for Graphic Design so thank you Marvel (and all the other comic publishers out there ;P).

Book Rating: 4/5

You can find this book on Goodreads!

Disclaimer: I bought this book at a comic book shop for an amazing discounted rate and read it because I wanted to.

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