Book Review: Break by Clare Littlemore

Our reviewer @saramact was really excited when Clare Littlemore read her review and loved it. She even sent @saramact the second book of her series called Break so that she could read it too. So now, here is Sara’s review 🙂 !

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Synopsis: It’s been three months since Quin transferred to Patrol and discovered the terrifying truth about the community she lives in. Citizens of The Beck are disposable and those in charge are capable of terrible cruelty. Vowing to protect those around her, Quin has joined the Resistance. But she knows she is risking everything.

A rebellion of any kind must be secretive and clever. Gathering enough people to fight seems like an impossible task. When those closest to her are directly threatened, Quin knows she has to act. But time is running out. Governance will stop at nothing to protect the world it has worked to build. In the end, Quin must decide how far she is prepared to go to rescue the ones she loves.

Picking up soon after the previous book, Quin, our main character, is still adjusting to her new position in Beck society as a Patrol officer. In this dystopian society run by strict rules, Patrol officers are given more knowledge than the average citizen, which introduces them to some of the hidden horrors “required” to maintain this society and defend against outsiders. Quin and a group of rebels are quietly plotting action against the Beck society in this novel. They must stay under the radar while helping as many as they can and preparing to fight back. In this book, we learn more about the upper levels of the Beck society, while Quin and her group of friends struggle to retain appearances of good citizens while the horrible actions taken by the upper levels only get worse in their desperation to maintain control.

Just like the first novel, this book keeps you on your toes, waiting to see what happens next. This book, though, has even more action throughout than the first one, as we learn more about what it takes to keep such a strict society running – and how the citizens affected react. The characters are well developed, and the plot is entertaining without being predictable. The organization of the society is well thought out, with interesting aspects to be learned throughout the book that keep you searching for more. Overall this is very well written and entertaining and deserves to be one of the top books in the genre. I am eager to read what happens next in the series, as we were left on another cliffhanger at the end of the book!

My only complaints would be about some of the minor dramas between the characters, which are so common in young adult novels – confusion over feelings that would be solved with communication. This does give some depth to some of the characters, but I always prefer when these clichés can be avoided or written in a new way so that it feels less familiar. I also wish there was more of it! I can’t wait for the next book, and I wish this one had been longer.

Book Rating: 5/5

You can click on the book below to check it out on Amazon!

Disclaimer: This book was provided to us by the author in digital format for an honest review.

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Book Review: Practice Makes Purpose by C. Paul Schroeder

A new book review of Practice Makes Purpose: Six Spiritual Practices That Will Change Your Life And Transform Your Community by C. Paul Schroeder. This book was a short read at only 198 pages and had some good insight into life and how to approach it.

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Synopsis: The Six Spiritual Practices are a new formulation of a very old set of teachings and disciplines. If you apply them regularly, you will have more energy and vitality, more focus, more compassion, more clarity, and more joy. And these effects will ripple outward into your marriage and family, your parenting, your workplace, your friendships, your neighborhood and city. These practices will change your life and transform your community. They will connect you and the people around you to Purpose, the experience of belonging to something infinitely greater than ourselves.

This book was interesting. It has a lot of good values and it teaches you to gain purpose through 6 spiritual practices. It is kind of like a self-help book but for re-evaluating your day to day decisions on how to interact in different situations. I mainly found that the 6 practices help a lot with self-control.

The author uses examples of how these steps can help in family life and work life so it makes it relatable. It is a great book for someone that wants to gain access to another side of themselves.

I’m not a big fan of self-help type books but this one was a decent read and easy to get through. If you are looking for some spiritual evaluation, take this book for a spin.

You can find the book on Amazon.

Book Rating: 3/5

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author to read and give an honest review.

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Book Review: Every Watering Word by Tanya Manning-Yarde

A new review of Every Watering Word by Tanya Manning-Yarde. This is the first poetry book I have read for review. I wouldn’t say I am necessarily into poetry but this book was actually pretty good.

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Synopsis: This collection of poetry is an ensemble of many themes. Every Watering Word encompasses poetic rumination about women’s self-discovery; stories about coming of age; explorations of sex, sensuality and eroticism; epiphanies gleaned from motherhood and marriage; the structure and impact of racial and gender oppression; the trials, tribulations and triumphs experienced by love; the inheritance of jazz music and honoring the Black Christian tradition while exploring tensions underlying what it means to be African-American and Christian.

This collection of poems was very interesting. It explored a lot of different subjects. Some of them were very intense where others had a softer tone. Some would make you feel like you were in a flashback. It’s hard to capture just one feeling about the book because there are so many stories intertwined with so little pages to capture them.

There was one that stuck with me. It is near the beginning of the book and is about a woman that is being punished for some wrongdoing. The family is actually lighting her on fire to teach her a lesson and show her that the man of the house is the one in control. It was brutal and hard to read but at the same time, this is done to some people and I can’t even imagine living in a situation like that where all you would ever look for is an escape.

The beauty of poetry is that I could be seeing one thing in this poem and someone else could see something totally different. It is pretty much up to the reader’s interpretation of what they want to think it means.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author to read and give an honest review.

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Book review: The Mark of Wu – Hidden Paths

Another book completed and added to the library. Another review to be read 🙂

I finished The Mark of Wu: Hidden Paths by Stephen M. Gray. The book was actually pretty good. Picture Mulan but the male character from that movie and instead of being G rated, it’s more of an R rating.

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I will post the synopsis in case you didn’t read my book highlight post.

Synopsis: Yuan, a State of Chu warrior, stands front and center on his chariot, reins in hand, holding at bay a spirited team of horses. He is anxious for a chance to unleash his rage on the invading Wu barbarians in the battle before him. His eyes fix enviously on a fellow soldier, a halberdier who extends his hooked weapon over the shoulder of an enemy who desperately sprints away from the charging chariot. Yuan knows the result before it happens. The wicked blade rips through flesh and muscle, and sinks into the enemy’s collar bone as screams echo off the Dabie Shan Mountains.

Yuan glances toward Field Marshall Wei Yue, thirsting for the order to charge into the fray. He needs this fight to restore his family’s honor. But on the march to battle, Chu’s brilliant General Yang Gai dies, and the less capable Wei Yue snatches control. Can the newly anointed Field Marshall rise to the challenge?

The Emperor has lost his grip on the feudal States, and brutal rivalries, both new and old, now rule. Individual States constantly collide, and noblemen must rise in power to overcome the crushing will of warring factions. Only two outcomes are possible – prevail or perish.

Yuan finds himself catapulted into the throes of treacherous enemies, not only on the battlefield but also at home. This superior warrior will need all his skill and cunning to stay alive.

So this book was an adventure packed thrill ride. I normally am not the biggest fan of history but this book turned China history lessons into intense action war scenes that made you want to know more about how and why the different clans were fighting and how they became these badass armies. I will say that there are some parts that over explained instead of getting to the point but this book is still worth reading. The storyline and characters make up for the over descriptive parts.

Now the characters were all very well rounded and the author gave you just the right amount of background for each to be a relevant part of the story. Prince Kuang and Yuan were my two favorite characters. They are adversaries and both possess the talent and strategy for war tactics.

One thing I did notice it’s that this book is kind of like Game of Thrones in the sense that you can’t keep any characters near and dear to your heart. The reason being is because at any minute they could be killed off. I don’t know how many times when I was reading this book that I would say, “hmm I really like this character” and then the next chapter they would get murdered or killed in some other way. Personally, I think this adds to the book and makes it more cinematic 😛

I would recommend this book if you want an intense action book with really cool fight scenes and smart battle strategists.

You can find the book on Amazon.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author’s publishing company for an honest review. 

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Book Highlight: The Mark of Wu – Hidden Paths by Stephen M. Gray

Congratulations to Stephen M. Gray on the release of his book The Mark of Wu – Book One: Hidden Paths. I am currently reviewing this book that was sent to me by Ingram Publisher Services. It is good so far and I am halfway through. Sometimes life gets in the way and stops us from reading. If only we could read all the time 😛

Anyway back to the book highlight!

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Description:

Hidden Paths, the first novel in The Mark Of Wu series, opens in 519 B.C., as the Spring and Autumn period of the Eastern Zhou dynasty devolves toward Warring States Period. 

The Emperor’s grip on the feudal states is over. Brutal rivalries, both new and old now rule, and military dashes lay waste to those who are unprepared. Some men are driven by pure evil, and States either gain power or die.

State of Ch soldier Yuan stands on his chariot, reining in his eager team of horses, anxious for a chance to unleash his rage on the invading Wu barbarians in the battle before him.

Author Bio:

Prior to becoming a serial novelist, Stephen M. Gray worked as a corporate attorney on complex litigation. Early in Gray’s career, his travels to Asia fuelled a thirst to learn about China’s history. His extensive research into the teachings of Sun Tzu for application in today’s business world led to his fascination with 6th Century BC China. There Gray discovered folklore about the abuse of power and privilege and the noble effort of a few brave warriors who fought against tremendous odds for their survival. Hidden Paths is Gray’s first of five books in The Mark of Wu novel series.

So far the book is good and I look forward to sharing my full review with you bookworms!

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Book Review: To Keep A Secret by Melina Wedin

Another book review for the shelves. This one was called To Keep A Secret by Melina Wedin. It was more of a novella as it was only about 43 pages but I have found a certain love for these types of books. They are not too short but also not too long and they always end with one last line that sticks with you for days afterward.

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Synopsis: A well needed week away from the mainland sounded like a great idea. But this innocent trip to a private island won’t end as well as it began. Tracy finds herself in a situation she could never have imagined as she gets to know the secrets of her love – Ryan Bailey.

The question is: when love turns to fear, how will you survive?

I was drawn in rather quickly to this novella. The main character Tracy was likable and the type of person that has had to earn everything she has. She deserves a break and decides to go on this trip with her friends. The trips starts out great but quickly turns into a nightmare.

I won’t spoil it because it is a pretty short book but I will say that I would not want to be in the circumstances she was in. She has to endure some pretty brutal stuff just to survive another day. You can guess where the plot is going if you have this genre of book but I would still suggest checking this one out.

Another thing that I loved about the book is that it was based in Australia. It has been my dream to go to Australia since grade 4 I think and I will make it there one day.

If you wish to get the book, you can click the link :

You can connect with the author on her website www.melinasvoice.com or catch up with her on her Facebook Page.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I was sent the book by the author so that I could read it and give an honest review. I have not been compensated in any way.

 

Book Review: The Aletheian Journeys: The Arrow Bringer by Lisa Mayer

A new reviewer has joined the team! Welcome, Sara to the Breakeven Books team. You can find Sara on her Instagram at saramact! She has reviewed The Aletheian Journeys: The Arrow Bringer by Lisa Mayer.

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This novel is a C.S. Lewis inspired Christian fantasy. Taking place in the land of Aletheian, which is in another world, the two main characters fight against the evil ruler, Kotu, to bring peace back to the land through inspiring the love for an omnipotent and near-forgotten caretaker, the Arrow Bringer.

The plot is long and flows from one conflict to the next, never sticking to a traditional storyline, so you don’t know what’s coming next. The author focuses a lot of the book on the inner turmoil of the main character and narrator, Evangeline, as she works through her issues with her initial turning away from the Arrow Bringer and her responsibilities to the people of Aletheia. The secondary character, Shawn, is also struggling with his own faith, though he is much more confident in his role. Through preparing for an epic battle with Kotu and his followers, the Aletheians must go on a journey assigned to them by the Arrow Bringer to prove their love and faith.
Though I enjoyed the fantasy world Mayer had created, the model has some definite flaws. There are several parts where the story is lacking a certain “flow”, and so occasionally reads a bit rough. For example, she introduced a few characters as if we should already know who they were, or mentioned personal relationships between characters that were not exposed at all before that, and so came across as forced.

Unfortunately, the Christian allegory and allusions are about as subtle as a brick. There is no mistaking this for anything other than a Christian story, and in many parts makes such obvious references and defers from the plot so much that it is very distracting from the story. Eventually, the Arrow Bringer character even takes human form, is renamed Justus, and sacrifices himself for his followers. Though I enjoy a good Christian story, this novel is so blunt about it that I found it very distracting from the fantasy elements of the story, and found it hard to enjoy because of this.

Overall, this book has a good premise, as the idea behind the fantasy elements of the story is entertaining and intriguing. The author fleshes out the characters she chooses to very well, and makes them relatable. I enjoyed reading through Evangeline’s personal journey as she progressed through the story. Unfortunately, the bluntness of the Christian elements detract from the overall story and make it hard to read without feeling like you’re reading the New Testament.

Book Rating: 3/5.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us by the author for an honest review. We have not been compensated in any way.

Find the book on Amazon! Or check out the author’s website. You can also find Lisa Mayer on Twitter.

Talk to you soon bookworms!

Book Review: Release by Patrick Ness

Another book review, this time of Release by Patrick Ness. I read this one really fast so that tells you that it was damn good.

I would start with the fact that I love this book cover. It’s beautiful. Also kind of confused me because I would pick up the book to read if I put it down and it would be upside down because I kept expecting the cover to be right side up 😛

Synopsis: Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.

Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart.  At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.

So I loved Adam’s character. He was just so real. And his best friend Angela was the best. If she was my friend, I would feel so blessed because she cares for Adam so much and would do anything for him. The fact that they became such good friends because they bonded over being in a car accident together as children was really cool. Just hanging upside down and reaching over and holding each other’s hands while being stuck in the car.

The entire book spans just over one day and a lot happens in this one day. Adam hears some big news from his brother, is given an ultimatum by his boss to either keep his job or get fired, and attends a party for some people close to him that are moving away. But there is another side story happening at the same time as Adam’s unravels.

A young woman named Katherine was killed just days before and her spirit has come out of the lake and is searching for some resolution to why she died. The story keeps switching back and forth between the two characters which makes for a very interesting storyline but none the less magnificent.

Adam’s struggle with his home life is kind of brutal too. He likes the same sex and this is not a thing you do if you are religious. At one point his father even tells him that he has to “work” to love Adam and that would be so hard to hear especially from the person you look up to and learn from your entire life. But he is true to who he is and fights for what he wants which I admire about him.

There was a quote that stood out in the book. It came from Angela’s mom but I thought it was too awesome not to share.

Never pass up the chance to be kissing someone. Its the worst kind of regret.

All in all, I loved this book and would strongly recommend it. It’s a very easy read and will leave you feeling happy. I honestly can’t find anything negative to say about it. This is the first book I have read by Patrick Ness and I really look forward to reading more of his work.

Book Rating: 5/5

Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money and decided to write a review on it. I have been compensated in no way and did this because I wanted to.

Book Review: Star City by Edwin Peng

Another book  has been read and reviewed! This one is called Star City by Edwin Peng.

This book was pretty good. The main characters were Emma (the youthful student ambassador) and Sepporinen (the chosen Alien delegate). They work together to cure diseases with the use of the alien technology. But a lot of the world doesn’t agree with working with aliens and choose to start anti-Bar’en groups (Bar’en is the alien race that Sepporinen is a part of).

There was some teen love but I found that most of it wasn’t exactly believable. It just seemed like a very elementary school kind of relationship.

Most of the events that happened in the book were pretty predictable. I kept waiting for that moment when you think you know whats going to happen and there is a twist that just makes for a great ending but it never came.

There was a lot of progress towards accepting different cultures. This I did like about the book because it promoted accepting everyone and taking away the fuel of hatred towards others based on skin color or religion.

It was interesting enough to keep me going and I liked the book cover too. I think the sequels will be promising and I hope for some more adventure with the main characters.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

Oh and finally I will reveal the Giveaway Winner!!! And the winner is…….drumroll please……….KYLEE BAKOWSKI! I will get in touch and get the book to you. Thank you to everyone who liked and shared the post and participated in the contest.

Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the author and publishers to read and give my honest review. I also did a book highlight and giveaway for this book.

Book Review: Writer, Seeker, Killer by Ryan Starbloak

Another review for you guys by our one and only Chris Connors of the BreakEven Books team! He took on Writer, Seeker, Killer by Ryan Starbloak this time.

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In the 1970s there was a fad among writers to have their book end with a most unexpected ending. Sometimes the ending was ambiguous—no doubt that makes for good classroom discussions on what really happened—and sometimes the ending was “everyone dies”, or at least the raison d’etre of the main character dies; and other times someone dies but it is ambiguous.

This is a book that harkens back to some of that 70s writing. Despite my dislike for that type of book, this is a good book; in fact, it is probably a really good book.

I jumped into this book without reading anything about the book so I enjoyed the adventure as it went along. The author doesn’t lay everything out and doesn’t explain many things, but instead drops hints so that you gradually put together pieces of the puzzle to figure out where things are going. Just the reading itself was like slowly unwrapping a multi-layered gift with each new wrapping revealing something new, but still not fully exposing what is at the heart of the gift.

And, what is quite refreshing is that just as you think you know where this is going the author drops another throw-away line that makes you say, “Wait?! What?”, and you have to go back and reread the preceding paragraph to make sure you’ve read it right.

This book, set in New Orleans, takes you on a journey through some of the seedier aspects of the human condition, the drug wars, gang life, poverty, racial violence while also discussing beginner philosophical and religious tenets, family, and life in general. This journey itself was artfully done. I imagine an English literature teacher in high school would get a few weeks of discussion material (the writing stylings actually reminded me a bit of Timothy Findlay’s The War, that English lit book that was all the rage for so long).

Then just when you think you know where this book is going there’s another big twist that transforms the book completely, and suddenly the whole thing turns almost surreal. It is like reading what you think is a romance novel only to suddenly have a Jason Bourne-like character show up for a big reveal (not that this book is a romance book or has any Jason Bourne character, but the switch is just as big and interesting).

There are a few misused words (“granite” for “granted” e.g., “Taking her family and existence for granite then clinging to both when they were proven as counterfeit”). It would also be easy to criticize the book for the “bad” guys rather convoluted Rube Goldberg way of going about their plans. There were so many different, quicker, cheaper ways of getting to where they wanted. As well, there are many unanswered questions, but the writing skill displayed makes you overlook these things; or at least overlook till the wee hours of the morning when your brain says, “Psst, wake up. Let’s talk about the
novel”.

It seems the book isn’t so much about the storyline, but more about the human condition; the plot itself is of lesser importance than the exploration of the inner workings of people—at least that is my sense after my brain woke me up at 2:40 a.m. and made me type this out.The fact that this book did that indicates just how well-written, and even powerful, it is. A five-star book that will stay with me for quite a while.

Book Rating: 5/5

Disclaimer: This book was provided to us by the author in exchange for an honest review.

And if you wish to connect with the author, check out his Tumblr page!