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: 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!

Book Review – Peanut Butter and Jelly by Ben Clanton

I recently read Peanut Butter and Jelly (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #3) by Ben Clanton. It was a short graphic novel about the friendship of a narwhal and a jellyfish. This was an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) and it will be published March 27th, 2018.

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Synopsis: Narwhal and Jelly are back and Narwhal has a new obsession . . . peanut butter! He’s so obsessed he even wants to change his name to . . . that’s right . . . Peanut Butter! Ever-sensible Jelly isn’t so sure that’s the best idea but is all for Narwhal trying new things (instead of just eating waffles all the time, no matter how delicious waffles are).

In this third book, Narwhal and Jelly star in three new stories about trying new things, favorite foods and accepting who we are. Always funny and never didactic, this underwater duo charms again through their powerful combination of positive thinking, imagination, and joyfulness.

This graphic novel was really fun! It is very simple so great for young readers and it had a lot of wit to it. There were some puns which made me laugh and the narwhal’s element of just pure innocence puts a smile on your face. And you can’t go wrong with waffles and peanut butter, these are just two amazing food options.

The characters reminded me of some classic duos where there is a funny and serious portrayal. The one creature is the serious and methodical one (Jellyfish) and the other creature was humorous and spontaneous (Narwhal).

Overall, it was a fast-read with fun characters and a simple storyline that would be great for a younger audience.

Book Rating: 4/5

Disclaimer: I received this ARC through NetGalley for an honest review.

What book had the most surprising plot twist ending?

Finally I am back at writing for the blog. This week has been hectic and busy but I am glad to get back to something I love doing. Anyways, this question was very easy for me and a certain book popped into my head immediately. If you have not read Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson, then you better get on it. The ending was crazy and so unexpected. If you are going to read it, then avoid the section called spoiler below.

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Synopsis: A terrible accident has robbed Christine of her memories. She cannot remember the past – or even yesterday. Determined to discover who she is, she has begun keeping a journal before she goes to sleep. Before she can forget again.

But the truth may be more terrifying – and deadlier – than she bargained for…

This book was very intense. The main character is constantly struggling with herself and trying to remember who she is and was before her accident. Her husband goes through a lot trying to help her remember and become the person she used to be.

SPOILER

The crazy twist is that the man she believes is her husband since the start of the book is actually the man who caused her accident and is the reason she can’t remember – he is also not her husband (her husband is real and comes into play eventually). She also has a child that this man makes her believe died when she was in the accident.

SPOILER ENDED

I really recommend this one because I could not put it down without knowing what happens to the main character and how they get out of their situation. Let me know what book had a crazy plot twist for you int he comments.


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What character can you relate to the most?

This had me racking my brain for awhile to come up with a character I relate to. I don’t know if this is the best choice but it was the closest I could think of. I would say that I relate to Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games but Suzanne Collins.

Now I am not nearly as strong as Peeta, but I was thinking more in his way of creativity and his nature he has about him. We both put all our energy into what we want to achieve and stay true to what we believe. I will be outgoing most of the time but also conserved and attentive at other times.

This was the closest I could come to a character that somewhat resembles me. I guess this just means I need to read more books so I can find a similar character to myself. Clearly we aren’t that similar because I couldn’t find much to write about our resemblances. I challenge you guys to find a character that is close to your personality. If you can come up with one, tell me in the comments!

Short but sweet post today on lazy Sunday! Talk to you soon bookworms 🙂