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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog KNIGHT IN PAPER ARMOR by Nicholas Conley (@NicholasConley1) Scary, inspiring, and ultimately life-affirming #RBRT #Sci-fi

Hi all:

Today I bring you the review of a book by an author that impressed me with one of his novels a few years back:

Knight in Paper Armor by Nicholas Conley

Knight in Paper Armor by Nicholas Conley

Billy Jakobek has always been different. Born with strange and powerful psychic abilities, he has grown up in the laboratories of Thorne Century, a ruthless megacorporation that economically, socially, and politically dominates American society. Every day, Billy absorbs the emotional energies, dreams, and traumas of everyone he meets—from his grandmother’s memories of the Holocaust, to the terror his sheer existence inflicts upon his captors—and he yearns to break free, so he can use his powers to help others.

Natalia Gonzalez, a rebellious artist and daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, lives in Heaven’s Hole, an industrial town built inside a meteor crater, where the poverty-stricken population struggles to survive the nightmarish working conditions of the local Thorne Century factory. Natalia takes care of her ailing mother, her grandmother, and her two younger brothers, and while she dreams of escape, she knows she cannot leave her family behind.

When Billy is transferred to Heaven’s Hole, his chance encounter with Natalia sends shockwaves rippling across the blighted landscape. The two outsiders are pitted against the all-powerful monopoly, while Billy experiences visions of an otherworldly figure known as the Shape, which prophesizes an apocalyptic future that could decimate the world they know.

https://www.amazon.com/Knight-Paper-Armor-Nicholas-Conley-ebook/dp/B08CLSSX8Z/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Knight-Paper-Armor-Nicholas-Conley-ebook/dp/B08CLSSX8Z/

https://www.amazon.es/Knight-Paper-Armor-Nicholas-Conley-ebook/dp/B08CLSSX8Z/

Author Nicholas Conley
Author Nicholas Conley

About the author:

Nicholas Conley is an award-winning Jewish American author, journalist, playwright, and coffee vigilante. His books, such as Knight in Paper Armor, Pale Highway, Clay Tongue: A Novelette, and Intraterrestrial, merge science fiction narratives with hard-hitting examinations of social issues. Originally from California, he now lives in New Hampshire.

www.NicholasConley.com

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

I read and reviewed Conley’s novel Pale Highway (you can check my review here) a while back, and it left a long-lasting impression. A book that although falling under the aegis of Science Fiction did not easily fit into any category and provided a unique reading experience.

Conley’s new novel shares some of the same characteristics. It is set in the not too-distant future, a dystopian future where the United States seems to have become more parcelled out and separate than ever —different populations are segregated into newly created states [immigrants have to live in certain areas, the Jewish population in another state, the well-to-do elsewhere…]—, where huge corporations have taken over everything, and prejudice is rampant. From that perspective, the book fits into the science-fiction genre, and there are also other elements (like Billy’s powers, the way the Thorne Corporation is trying to harness those powers…) that easily fit into that category, although, otherwise, the world depicted in it is worryingly similar to the one we live in. Although there aren’t lengthy descriptions of all aspects of the world, there are some scenes that vividly portray some parts of the town (Heaven’s Hole), and I would say the novel is best at creating a feeling or an impression of what life must be like there, rather than making us see it in detail. Somehow it is as if we had acquired some of Billy’s powers and could “sense” what the characters are going through.

I don’t want to discuss the plot in too much detail, as there is much to discover and enjoy, but the book is also, at some level, a rite of passage for the two young protagonists, who might come from very different backgrounds and traditions but have much in common (they’ve lost beloved family members to unfair treatment, discrimination, and manipulation; their grandmothers have played an important role in their lives; they are outsiders; they are strongly committed to others…), and who help each other become better versions of themselves. Although there is a romantic aspect to their relationship (it is reminiscent of “insta love” that so many readers dislike) and even a sex scene (very mild and not at all descriptive), the story of Billy and Natalia’s relationship goes beyond that. I don’t think I would class this novel as a Young Adult story, despite the ages of the protagonists (at least during most of the action), but that would depend on every reader. There is plenty of violence, death of adults and children, instances of physical abuse and serious injuries of both youths and adults, so I’d recommend caution depending on the age of the reader and their sensitivity to those types of subjects.

The book can be read as a metaphor for how the world might end up looking like if we don’t change our ways (and I thought about George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm often as I read this novel), or as a straight Sci-Fi novel where two young people, one with special powers and one without, confront the government/a powerful tyrannous corporation to free society from their clutches (think the Hunger Games, although many other examples exist). It’s easy to draw comparisons and parallels with the present (and with other historical eras) as one reads; and the examples of bullying, abuse, extortion, threats, corruption… might differ in detail from events we know, but not in the essence. There is also emphasis on tradition, memory (the role of the two grandmothers is very important in that respect), identity (Billy’s Jewish identity, Natalia’s Guatemalan one, although she and her family have to pass for Mexicans at some point), disability, diversity, poverty, power, the role of media…

I have talked about the two main characters, who are both heroes (each one in their own way) and well-matched, and their families feature as well and play an important part in grounding them and making us see who they are (although Billy’s family features mostly through his memories of them). We also have a baddie we can hate at will (he is despicable, but I didn’t find him too impressive compared to others, and I prefer baddies with a certain level of humanity rather than a purely evil one), another baddie who is just a bigot and nasty (not much characterization there), and some others whose actions are morally wrong but whose reasons we come to understand. The circumstances of Billy and Natalia are so hard, and they have such great hearts that it is impossible not to root for them (I’m a big fan of Natalia, perhaps because she saves the day without having any special powers and she is easier to identify with than Billy, who is such a singular character), and their relatives and friends are also very relatable, but as I said, things are very black and white, and the book does not offer much room for shades of grey.

The story is told in the third person, although each chapter follows the point of view of one of the characters, and this is not limited to the two protagonists, but also to Thorne, and to one of the scientists working on the project. There are also moments when we follow some of the characters into a “somewhere else”, a vision that might be a memory of the past, or sometimes a projection of something else (a possible future?, a different realm or dimension?, the collective unconscious), and these chapters are quite descriptive and have an almost hallucinatory intensity. The Shape plays a big part on some of those chapters, and it makes for a much more interesting evil character than Thorne (and it brought to my mind Lovecraft and Cthulhu). Readers must be prepared to follow the characters into these places, although the experience can be painful at times. I was touched and close to tears quite a few times while I read this book, sometimes due to sadness but others the experience was a happy one.

The book is divided up into 10 parts, each one with a Hebrew name, and as I’m not that familiar with the Jewish tradition I had to check and found out these refer to the ten nodes of the Kabbalah Tree of Life. This made me realise that the structure of the book is carefully designed and it has a significance that is not evident at first sight. That does not mean it is necessary to be conversant with this concept to read and enjoy the book, but I am sure there is more to it than meets the eye (and the Tree of Life pays and important role in the story, although I won’t say anything else to avoid spoilers). The writing is lyrical and beautiful in parts, and quite horrific and explicit when it comes to detailing violence and abuse. This is not a fast page-turner, and although there is plenty of action, there are also moments where characters talk, think, or are even suspended in non-reality, so this is not for those who are only interested in stories where the plot is king and its advancement the only justification for each and every word written. I often recommend readers to try a sample of a book before purchasing, and this is even more important for books such as this one, which are not easy to pin down or classify.

From my references to Orwell you will know that this is a book with a clear message (or several) and not “just” light entertainment, but I don’t want you to think it is all doom and gloom. Quite the opposite, in fact. The ending is positive, hopeful and life-affirming. Those who like endings where everything is resolved will love this one, and those who are looking for an inspiring novel and are happy to boldly go where no reader has gone before will be handsomely rewarded.

I had to include the quote that opens the book, because it is at the heart of it all, and because it is so relevant:

The opposite of love I not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. To be in the window and watch people being sent to concentration camps or being attacked in the street and do nothing, that’s being dead. Elie Wiesel.

Thanks to the author and to Rosie and all her group for their support, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep smiling, and always keep safe.

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Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview THE FALLEN ANGEL: THE GREAT DEVIL WAR V by Kenneth B. Andersen (@K_B_Andersen) A cliff-hanger ending that will take your breath away #fantasy

Hi all:

I bring you book 5 in a series I’ve been following for quite a while now.

The Fallen Angel by Kenneth B Andersen

The Fallen Angel: The Great Devil War V by Kenneth B. Andersen

Book 5 in the multi-award winning series.

It’s been almost two years since Philip left Hell and returned to life—this time for good.

But things have changed and so has Philip. He’s haunted by terrifying nightmares and has never felt so lonely. Lonely and angry.

Then one day the impossible happens and Philip is brought back to Hell. Not by the Devil, but by the Almighty himself.

Although the Great Devil War ended a long time ago, the battle is far from over—and the worst is yet to come.

THE GREAT DEVIL WAR is a gripping and humorous tale about good and evil seen from an unusual perspective and set in a world beyond your wildest dreams…


Praise for The Fallen Angel

“This series will entertain you, and it will take you on an emotional journey to define your place in this world, while Philip tries to find his own.” ***** – Tessa Talks Books

“Each book of The Great Devil War series has deserved a full 5/5 star rating for Andersen’s magical and immersive writing style, the long-term character development, and a distinct, informed realm! Academic, complex, emotionally stimulating books.” ***** – It’s a Novel Life

“A very quick and entertaining fantasy novel that really makes you think.” ***** – Entertainingly Nerdy

Over 2000 worldwide 5 star reviews of the series.

Winner of the Karen Blixen award, the ORLA award, and the BMF award.

https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Angel-Great-Devil-War-ebook/dp/B08467TLYY/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fallen-Angel-Great-Devil-War-ebook/dp/B08467TLYY/

https://www.amazon.es/Fallen-Angel-Great-Devil-War-ebook/dp/B08467TLYY/

Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen
Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen

About the author:

I was born in Denmark on a dark and stormy night in November 1976. I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.

During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.

In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than 40+ books for MG and YA readers in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.

My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated movie and tv series is currently in development.

In 2018 The Devil’s Apprentice came to life on stage in a musical adaption and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.

I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.

You can read more on my English website www.kennethbandersen.com

https://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-B%C3%B8gh-Andersen/e/B0045ADTRM/

My review:

I received an ARC copy from the author but that has in no way influenced my review, which I freely chose to write.

I have been following The Great Devil War, since the first novel, The Devil’s Apprentice, and loved it. I must confess I easily lose patience with series, so that’s saying something (you can check my review of book 4 here) . I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed this instalment too, and I can’t wait for the 6th and last part, although I’m sure I’ll miss the characters once it’s over. One warning to people who hate cliff-hangers, this book ends in one, and it felt a bit shorter than most of the others, as if we were catching up with the characters after a long break and getting ready for the big finale, rather than telling a full story. But it is a good read nonetheless.

It has been a long while since we last heard from Philip, and when we catch up with him, he is not the same boy we met in the first novel. Readers who’ve been following the series don’t need to worry if they’ve read part four a while back, because, at the beginning of the book, Philip keeps pondering about the past and about the decisions that brought him here and that means we can easily get up to speed. Philip is unhappy and thinks he has taken the wrong decision, and of course, we all know that one needs to be careful what one wishes for, and strange things soon start happening. And then, he is back in Hell, but he soon realises that time moves at a different pace there and many things have happened since he was around. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the plot, but I can tell you that we visit Heaven again; Philip gets to spend more time with his father; there is a new character that will take your breath away (and one I’ve come across in other writers’ work as well); and a story development that I think might not come as a total surprise to readers.

There are the usual funny meetings and jokes (yes, you’d be pleased to know that politicians get a very suitable punishment), characters from the Old Testament have plenty of things to say about Jehovah and not all complimentary, and we have an opportunity to catch up our favourite characters.

Although the book starts a bit slow, and we get a look into a Philip more bitter and angry than we are used to, he soon gets thrown into the middle of things and I enjoyed seeing him become more and more determined and independent. There is evidence of a darker side to his character that we had had glimpses of before, but he has grown into a more complex character, and like Satina and even Sam, their experiences and their age have had an impact making them more mature and responsible, although that does not mean they no longer have fun.

I enjoyed catching up with all the characters, meeting the new ones, the interaction between Lucifer and Jehova, and although I’m not a fan of cliff-hangers, I know I won’t have to wait long for the true finale, and there are big and difficult decisions coming Philip’s way.

I recommend it to lovers of fantasy, particularly that to do with angels, demons, mythology, especially those who enjoy series, and of course, to those who have been following the series. This novel is book five in the series, and they should all be read in the right order for readers to enjoy it fully. If you haven’t read the rest, I recommend that you start from the beginning and keep going, and I’m sure I’ll be back soon to tell you about book 6.

Thanks to the author for the novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling and safe!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE WRONGFUL DEATH: THE GREAT DEVIL WAR III by Kenneth B. Andersen (@K_B_Andersen) Another fun and thrilling book in a great series. #YA

Hi all:

Today I bring you the third book in a series I’m really enjoying.

The Wrongful Death. The Great Devil War III by Kenneth B. Andersen
The Wrongful Death. The Great Devil War III by Kenneth B. Andersen

The Wrongful Death: The Great Devil War III by Kenneth B. Andersen

Multi-award winning series, published in 10 countries, movie rights optioned!

Continuing the dark adventure that begins with The Devil’s Apprentice and The Die of Death.

An unfortunate chain of events makes Philip responsible for the untimely death of the school bully Sam—the Devil’s original choice for an heir.

Philip must return to Hell to find Sam and bring him back to life, so that fate can be restored. But trouble is stirring in Lucifer’s kingdom and not even Philip can imagine the strange and dark journey that awaits him.

A journey that will take him through ancient underworlds and all the way to Paradise.

Buy now and enter a world like no other!

The Great Devil War is a gripping and humorous tale about good and evil seen from a different perspective, making the reader laugh and think. It’s filled with biblical and historical characters and set in a world beyond your wildest dreams. Or nightmares …


Readers on The Wrongful Death:

“One of the things I really like about these books is that you never really know where Kenneth will go with the story … Humorous and clever at the same time.” *****

“I like how the world in the story keeps expanding. *****

“I love that this book has a trip to other underworlds. Very much worth the read.” *****

Over 2000 worldwide 5 star reviews of the series!

If you’re a Harry Potter or Percy Jackson fan, you don’t want to miss the ride!

https://www.amazon.com/Wrongful-Death-Great-Devil-War-ebook/dp/B07MYN5KKB/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wrongful-Death-Great-Devil-War-ebook/dp/B07MYN5KKB/

Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen
Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen

About Kenneth Bøgh Andersen

I was born in Denmark on a dark and stormy night in November 1976. I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.

During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.

In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than thirty-five books for children and young adults in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.

My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated tv series is currently in development.

A musical of The Devil’s Apprentice opens in the fall 2018 and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.

I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.

You can read more on my English website www.kennethbandersen.co

My review:

I received an ARC copy from the author but that has in no way influenced the review I freely chose to write.

I have read and reviewed the two previous books in Andersen’s series The Great Devil War (you can check my review here) and I loved them. I was more than happy when I heard the next book was ready and due for publication early in April. So, in case you are in a hurry, yes, I loved it as well. I have to add two caveats, though. The first one is a warning for readers who hate cliff-hangers. There is a big one at the end of the book. The book includes a teaser for book 4, and therefore we get a hint of what actually happens next, but the story itself is not completed in this volume. Yes, this is a series and is to be expected that the overall arch of the story will continue and is what happened with the two previous books, but they had a resolution to the main adventure in that particular tome, while that is not the case here. So if you hate cliff-hangers, stay away from this book, as it could make you quite angry. (I haven’t completely made up my mind about the subject. I don’t mind so much if I am sufficiently invested in the story and the characters, as I am in this series already, but if it’s totally unexpected and I don’t care for the characters, I am bound to not return to read the rest). The other caveat is a recommendation. There are enough reminders of Philip’s previous adventures in this novel to allow readers who’ve read the other books a while back to quickly find their bearings, but I don’t think it would work as an independent read, because there would be too much background missing to fully enjoy it. The series does not go into extremes of world building or descriptions, but by now there is a lot of information and mythology that, although based on common themes and concepts (Heaven and Hell, stories in the Bible), help create an environment that is a big part of its charm. So, if you fancy the sound of it, start with number 1 and keep going.

I’ve already said I enjoyed it, as much as the other books at least. We get a bit of exposure to Philip’s everyday life, but that doesn’t last long, and we’re soon back in Hell and with Satina, Lucifer, Lucifax, and the rest of our favourite characters. But there are some new ones as well. We get to meet the artist behind the horrific paintings adorning Lucifer’s castle (paintings where the condemned can be seen suffering and heard screaming), we meet Chimera, a fascinating creature (yes, I want one); we finally get to go to Heaven and meet Jehovah (I won’t give you any hints, but his relationship with Lucifer is… well, entertaining), also visit the garden of Eden, Saint Peter (I loved the fact that when he falls asleep his halo falls off his head), and we visit other underworlds, Hades in this case, and that brings us plenty of Greek mythology to contend with (and great characters as well).

There are also the guest star appearances, in Hell and in this case also in Heaven, famous figures from the past that Philip meets in his travels. I will keep my peace, but I particularly liked their encounter with a famous writer whose creations had also come to live. (Yes, Stephen King, be scared!).

The story moves at good pace, there is plenty of intrigues, action, betrayals, the quest motif, more than a hint of romance (but nothing explicit), and the humorous touches as well. The writing style is fluid and easy (the story is told in the third person from Philip’s point of view, as usual), and the characters are solid and engaging. The novel turns darker towards the end, and although the whole series has never been all light and fun (among the subjects discussed are family losses, reflections on good and evil, religious themes, guilt and its consequences, moral ambivalence, death and mortality to name but a few), the whole book hints at horrific things to come, and even the good things that happen come hand in hand with bad consequences. The main character is growing up and so are his concerns, and that makes it a series definitely worth following and watching for.

Any negatives? Well, apart from the cliff-hanger already mentioned, I guess that people who’ve just read the previous two books might feel they don’t need any reminders of the previous stories. (I didn’t find that a problem). I also wondered how well this series would work for young readers of cultures not so familiar with the Bible.  I guess it might work as just another fantasy world, but I suspect some of the in-jokes might be lost. Despite the fantastical setting, this is a pretty conventional story when it comes to the main character and his background, so it might not suit readers looking for a more inclusive and diverse kind of storytelling.

As I had said before, this is a book I’d recommend to readers of fantasy, both YA and adults, but it does have pretty dark moments, there is violence (some behind closed doors), and it will not suit people who prefer light reads or are particularly squeamish. Its take on religion can put some people off as well, but I guess the description of the series gives a clear indication of that. A great read and another gripping visit to the universe of the Devil War. I cannot wait for the next instalment.

Thanks to the author for the book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review and always keep smiling!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE GREAT DEVIL WAR, BOOK 1 AND 2 by Kenneth B. Andersen. #RBRT Fun story, great setting, and a reluctant hero/villain you’ll get to love. #YAFantasy

Hi all:

Today I bring you the two first books in a series. I don’t usually read a lot in this genre but I’m pleased I decided to read these ones.

The Devil's Apprentice by Kenneth B. Andersen
The Devil’s Apprentice by Kenneth B. Andersen

The Devil’s Apprentice: The Great Devil War I by Kenneth B. Andersen (Kenneth Bøgh Andersen)

Philip is a good boy, a really good boy, who accidentally gets sent to Hell to become the Devil’s heir.
The Devil, Lucifer, is dying and desperately in need of a successor, but there’s been a mistake and Philip is the wrong boy.
Philip is terrible at being bad, but Lucifer has no other choice than to begin the difficult task of training him in the ways of evil.
Philip finds both friends and enemies in this odd, gloomy underworld— but who can he trust, when he discovers an evil-minded plot against the dark throne?

The Devil’s Apprentice is volume 1 in The Great Devil War-series.

The Great Devil War-series is a humorous and gripping tale about good and evil, filled with biblical and historical characters, such as Judas, Goliath, and Pontius Pilate, as well as modern figures such as Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and many more.

The Great Devil War-series is a Danish bestseller, topping library and school reading lists among teens and young adults. The books have been published in more than ten countries and have won numerous awards.

https://www.amazon.com/Devils-Apprentice-Great-Devil-War-ebook/dp/B07J9MRZVJ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Devils-Apprentice-Great-Devil-War-ebook/dp/B07J9MRZVJ/

Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen
Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen

About Kenneth Bøgh Andersen

I was born in Denmark on a dark and stormy night in November 1976. I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.

During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.

In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than thirty-five books for children and young adults in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.

My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated tv series is currently in development.

A musical of The Devil’s Apprentice opens in the fall 2018 and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.

I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.

You can read more on my English website www.kennethbandersen.com

My review:

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the author for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is a fun book. Written in the third-person form the point of view of Philip, a thirteen-year-old boy who lives with his mother and who lost his father when he was very young, this novel is suitable for younger readers and also for adults. If you have given up on new adult stories because of their heavy reliance on romance and low-grade erotica, you are safe with this book. Yes, there is a love interest, but the book is a great adventure first and foremost. Rather than a reluctant hero, we have here a reluctant villain (well, more or less). A tragic mistake makes Philip end up in a situation that is totally out of his comfort zone, and he has to undergo a training that I’m sure many boys and girls would take to like a duck to water, but not him. He has to learn to be bad, and it is a challenge.

There are some world-building and some wonderful descriptions (of locations, like Lucifer’s castle, a church with a very interesting graveyard, the doors of Hell…), but it is not excessively complex, and it does not slow down the adventures. Philip, like the readers, is totally new to this place, and his descriptions help us share in his adventures more fully. He gets a variety of guides and people explaining how things work there: Grumblebeard, the hospitable devil guarding the doors of Hell, Lucifax (Lucifer’s wonderful cat), Satina (a young female demon and a Tempter) and Lucifer in person (in demon?). Everything is dark and night (people do not wish each other good day, but good night, you don’t write in a diary, but in a nightary…) everywhere, there are many types of demons, each one with his own characteristics and roles to play, and bad humans (and there are a few not-unexpected jokes about politicians, although some of the others who end up in hell might be a bit more surprising) get punished in many different ways, but Hell itself is a place where demons go about their daily lives, have their jobs, go to school, get married, tend to their gardens… It is a place full of dangers but also full of interest, and Philip gets to experience plenty of new things, not all bad.

The book’s view of Heaven, Hell and moral issues is far from orthodox. Personally, I did not find it irreverent, but it is a matter of personal opinion. Even though I did not necessarily agree with all the views exposed, these are issues well-worth thinking and talking about and I am sure those who read the novel will feel the same. I enjoyed the sense of humour, and I liked most of the characters, from the secondary ones (I’ve already said I love Lucifax, but I grew fond of most, from the cook, Ravine, to Death himself), to the main protagonists, like Lucifer, wonderful Satina, and Philip. He is not perfect (well, he is perhaps too perfect to begin with, and then he turns… but I won’t spoil the book for you), and he learns important lessons on the way, and he is not the only one. Although I felt at first that some of the changes that take place in the book stretch the imagination, when I thought more about it, time in Hell moves at a different pace, and for a character who is as inflexible and extreme as Philip, for whom everything is black or white —at least to begin with— the process he goes through makes sense. And by the end of the novel, he has become more human and more humane.

The book is a page-turner, there are heroes and villains (or baddies and really evil characters), a few secrets, betrayals, red-herrings, tricks and deceits, an assassination attempt, and a mystery that will keep readers intrigued. And a great final twist. (Yes and a fantastic ending. I had an inkling about it and about some other aspects of the plot, but the beauty is in how well they are resolved). The novel is well-written, flows well, with a language of a level of complexity that should suit adults as well as younger readers, and it managed to make me care for the characters and want to keep reading their adventures.

A few quotes to give you a taster of the style of the pitch of the book.

“Let that be your first lesson, Philip. Down here, humor is always dark.”

“God and the Devil roll dice at the birth of every human being,” the cat explained. “A one-hundred-sided die determines the degree of evil or goodness in each person. The results fix the nature of each individual.”

I particularly loved this accusation addressed at Philip:

“You look like a devil, but you’re not one. You are nothing but a sheep in wolf’s clothing.”

I am not surprised that this book is a popular read in Denmark. I expect it will do well in its English version too. And I’ll be eagerly waiting for the adaptation to the screen. I recommend it to anybody who enjoys well-written YA books in the fantasy genre, without an excessive emphasis on world building, who don’t mind some creepy and dark elements and appreciate a good dose of dark humour. I have a copy of the second book as well, and I can’t wait to see what Philip and his underworld friends get up to next.

The Die of Death. The Great Devil's War Book 2 by Kenneth B. Andersen
The Die of Death. The Great Devil’s War Book 2 by Kenneth B. Andersen

The Die of Death: The Great Devil War II.

Philip’s adventures as the Devil’s apprentice have changed him—in a good way. Although he misses his friends in Hell, he has made new friends in life.
But when the future of the underworld is threatened once again, Philip’s help is needed. Death’s Die has been stolen and immortality is spreading across the globe.
Philip throws himself into the search—and discovers a horrible truth about his own life along the way.

The Die of Death is volume 2 in The Great Devil War-series.

The Great Devil War-series is a humorous and gripping tale about good and evil, filled with biblical and historical characters, such as Judas, Goliath, and Pontius Pilate, as well as modern figures such as Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and many more.

The Great Devil War-series is a Danish bestseller, topping library and school reading lists among teens and young adults. The books have been published in more than ten countries and have won numerous awards.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07J5W56CW/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07J5W56CW/

My review:

When I reviewed the first book in this series for Rosie’s Book Review Team, the author was kind enough to send me the second. There are, at least for the moment, four more to come (you can check them in the author’s website), and I, for starters, I’m looking forward to them.

The second book in the series picks up where the first one left, a few months after the protagonist, Philip visited Hell, and we see what has happened to him when he went back to life. Things are looking up for him. He has made some new friends, and he has become more popular. But then, strange things start to happen, he cheats death a few times, but eventually…

This time he is brought back to the Underworld (well, Underworlds), by Death himself, because Lucifer and Mortimer (Death) think he is the boy for the job. This time, the job involves retrieving the die of death (as you might have surmised from the title) that has been stolen. With Satina’s help (his girl-demon-friend) he starts investigating, and the search gets more desperate when the stakes become much higher and more personal.

I really enjoyed this book. Although there are reminders of what had happened in the first book in the series, and I guess regular readers of the genre might be able to pick up the clues quickly enough and follow the story, I would advise reading the books in the right order. There is much background covered in the first book that is relevant to the second book’s adventures, one gets a much better sense of how the different characters have evolved, and there are beautiful details and insights that would be lost if this book was read on its own.

For those of us who enjoyed the first book, this novel allows us to meet some of our favourite characters again (and some, perhaps, not as favourite), we discover some wonderfully creepy new locations and characters (death’s horse and his home are chilling, but I was particularly taken by the Purgatory), there are new dark jokes, and we get to know the fate of some interesting historical figures, like Hitler, Epicurus, and even Elvis!, and there are plenty of adventures. There are red-herrings and betrayals as would pertain a book about Hell, but I was gripped by some of the themes touched upon, like immortality (and, of course, mortality), fate, sin and guilt, getting old. If you’ve always wondered what it would be like to be immortal, this book will give you pause. (Yes, in most stories, the immortal are eternally young, but what would happen if they grew old?)

Although the book starts slowly, because trying to find clues about the whereabouts of the die proves hard and frustrating, the adventures soon pick up, and there are rich details all throughout the story that we need to pay attention to if we don’t want to miss anything. The rhythm increases quickly, and once Philip returns to Hell, we know we are in for a wild ride.

As I said when talking about the first book, this is a book for young adults and adults, especially those who enjoy dark adventures and fantasy with paranormal elements included. But, although the cruelty and violence are not described in extreme gory detail, this is a book that some would include into the horror category, and I would not recommend it for children or adults who are squeamish or scare easily. Some of the topics are also quite difficult, as we have broken families, illness, death, and matters of heaven and hell, and I’d recommend parents to check the book first themselves.

The book is well-written, has great characters (we get to see a more reflective Philip, who has to confront personal challenges and make some extremely difficult decisions), and it succeeds in building up the world of the series and in increasing its complexity. We also get a sample of the next book in the series, The Wrongful Death, which is scheduled for publication in the spring of 2019, at the back of the novel. Personally, I can’t wait.

Thanks to Rosie, to the author, and especially to all of you for reading. If you’ve enjoyed it, remember to like, share, comment, click, review and always, keep smiling!

 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT by Chelsea Sedoti (@chelseasedoti) An obnoxious and annoying main character that you’ll get to care about. #amreading

Hi all:

You know I have a bit of a thing for unreliable narrators and also for obnoxious narrators. Don’t get me wrong, I like nice and fluffy characters too but … I also like difficult ones. They can be the most rewarding. And here we have one of those…

 

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti.

SOURCEBOOKS Fire

Sourcebooks Fire

Teens & YA

Description

Hawthorn wasn’t trying to insert herself into a missing person’s investigation. Or maybe she was. But that’s only because Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery their sleepy town has ever had. Bad things don’t happen to popular girls like Lizzie Lovett, and Hawthorn is convinced she’ll turn up at any moment—which means the time for speculation is now.

So Hawthorn comes up with her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. A theory way too absurd to take seriously…at first. The more Hawthorn talks, the more she believes. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her—or did he?

Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Hawthorn’s quest for proof may uncover the greatest truth is within herself.

Advance Praise

“A dark, comedic mystery about a girl’s quest for proof that ultimately helps her discover some truths about herself. We officially love Hawthorn. One minute, our heart was breaking with her raw, aching loneliness, then we were laughing with her crazy sideways wisdom. Like Thorny, this book is offbeat, smart and awesome.” -Justine Magazine

“Hawthorn’s wildly creative imagination and humor drive this mystery’s plot forward…Recommended for teens who appreciate a protagonist with a lively imagination and an acerbic tongue.” -School Library Journal

“Sedoti’s debut offers an enlightening look at the dangers of relying on outward appearances to judge someone’s character, and Hawthorn’s first-person narrative, filled with obsessive thoughts and, eventually, meaningful reflection, is a lively, engaging vehicle for the story… Fans of character-driven novels will appreciate this.” -Booklist

“A solid coming-of-age novel with light spunk and individuality.” -Kirkus Reviews

“Sedoti deftly pulls readers into [Hawthorn’s] head where her yearning for excitement, angst about the future, and insecurity bring further depth to her character. Hawthorn and Lizzie both emerge as surprising, intricate characters whose stories are resonant and memorable.” -Publishers Weekly

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Hundred-Lies-Lizzie-Lovett-ebook/dp/B01EVJECJA/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hundred-Lies-Lizzie-Lovett-ebook/dp/B01EVJECJA/

Author Chelsea Sedoti
Author Chelsea Sedoti

About the author:

Chelsea Sedoti fell in love with writing at a young age after discovering that making up stories was more fun than doing her school work (her teachers didn’t always appreciate this.) In an effort to avoid getting a “real” job, Chelsea explored careers as a balloon twister, filmmaker, and paranormal investigator. Eventually, she realized that her true passion is writing about flawed teenagers who are also afraid of growing up. When she’s not at the computer, Chelsea spends her time exploring abandoned buildings, eating junk food at roadside diners, and trying to befriend every animal in the world. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she avoids casinos but loves roaming the Mojave Desert.

Goodreads page:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13990575.Chelsea_Sedoti

My review:

Thanks to Net Galley and to Sourcebooks Fire for offering me an ARC of this book that I voluntarily chose to review.

This Young Adult novel is told in the first person by the protagonist, Hawthorn, a girl named after the tree, not the writer, as she has to clarify many times throughout the book. She’s seventeen and not the most popular girl at school. She feels the least popular, as she only has one friend, Emily, she never eats at the cafeteria to avoid others, never gets invited to parties… She has an older brother, Rush, who was a popular football player in High School, although he hasn’t made his dreams come true, her mother is a hippy who stays at home baking and cooking vegan food that nobody seems to appreciate, and her father is more practical and keeps trying to push Hawthorn into choosing a college and growing up. Hawthorn, who writes the story in a diary format, in the first person, is not a lovely girl (well, she is lovable but that’s different). She is selfish and has nothing kind to say to anybody or about anybody. As is often the case at that age, she always thinks the worst of anybody who tries to get closer to her and assumes that everybody’s life is better than hers. She also knows everything and everybody else is boring and/or lame. Let’s say that although she complains bitterly about how unfair her life is, it is not surprising that she doesn’t have a big fan club.

Then, one of the popular girls, Lizzie Lovett, who went to High School with her brother and had since left to live in a nearby town, disappears. She was a cheerleader and a popular girl, everything Hawthorn assumes is a recipe for happiness. She dismisses everybody’s concerns and decides that she’s alive and well. Later, she comes up with a fantastic and paranormal explanation for the disappearance, something that makes her the butt of everybody’s jokes. Somehow, despite the dislike she manifests for the missing girl, she decides to learn everything she can about her in order to prove her theory right, and that becomes her mission in life. That results in her investigating her life, working at her old job and even befriending her boyfriend.

The writing is strong and the character of Hawthorn is realistic and strongly rendered (like her or not. After all it takes all kinds of people). However much or little we might like her take on life (she does moan a lot and can be extremely negative, not only about herself but about everybody around), she is clever, she has a strong imagination and she refuses to be constrained by other people’s expectations and never follows other people’s lead. She refuses to grow up if that means you have to become dull and you can only do what others have done before. How convinced she is of some of her hare-brained schemes is debatable (even she comes to question that towards the end) but that doesn’t stop her or make her less determined.

Throughout her investigation and her adventures, Hawthorn gets to hear quite a few truths about herself; she discovers that she should extend the kindness and tolerance she wishes for herself to others and finds out that friends aren’t  there only to make you feel good and to agree with you. She also discovers that people aren’t who they seem to be, that identity is fluid, and that happiness is less straightforward than she imagines.

Hawthorn’s character grows and matures during the book, even if others don’t, and the cast of secondary characters, that include the members of her family, the people at the café and the visiting hippies, are vividly portrayed and all have important lessons to teach. Even Enzo, Lizzie’s boyfriend, offers her an insight that is reproduced in the novel itself: sometimes it’s best to leave the ending to the imagination and not to tie all the loose ends. We can’t know everything but that doesn’t mean we can’t make good use of what we learn along the way. (I don’t mean the novel doesn’t end; it does and in a satisfying if somewhat unsurprising way, but the mystery of Lizzie Lovett isn’t fully resolved.)

This novel is strong on characterisation and makes us share the life of a seventeen-year-old girl (however uncomfortable that might be), one that craves excitement and interest and likes to bring drama into her life. I have read negative reviews by people who strongly dislike the main character, although acknowledge the book is well written and the character sounds real. Perhaps for some of us, Hawthorn reminds us of aspects of our personality and our experiences as teenagers that we’d rather not remember because there’s no doubt that most of us have at times been as obnoxious and annoying as her. The mystery and the plot aren’t the main drivers of the book, therefore, I recommend it to those who enjoy character driven novels, quirky stories, and personalities, and to those who still remember or want to, the difficult and challenging years of adolescence. And of course to young adults looking for a different kind of heroine.

Events at the Literania Book Festival 2017

Before my thanks, I wanted to tell you that, as from tomorrow, I’ll be helping at a book festival in Madrid, called Literania. Although we started with books we’ll have a bit of everything (yes, readings, children’s events, music, food, reading marathons, chats by well-known authors and experts…). I have programmed a few more reviews in advance but might not be able to come back to you very quickly, although I hope to bring you some info about the event. And just in case you’re around or know somebody who is in Madrid, here is the link:

http://literania.global/

Thanks so much to NetGalley and to the publishers, thanks so much to all of your for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK! And don’t worry if you don’t see me around for the next 10 days or so. I’ll be busy!

Categories
Book launch book promo New books

#Bookblitz and #giveaway MERCY by Misty Provencher (@mistyprovencher) YA paranormal fantasy that will take you somewhere totally unexpected

Hi all:
Sorry for the double posting today, but due to changes in other people’s schedules there has been some date-swapping, but I didn’t want you to miss on anything.  So, here is…
Title: Mercy
Author: Misty Provencher

Genre: Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy


Blurb:
My will to survive is the first thing to drown.
I know, because I hold it under myself.

After facing severe tragedy in life, Madeline assumes her death will be easy.
But the angels do not come to take her to Heaven.
Instead, what retrieves her is something she never expected: a gargoyle.

Delivered to Truce, the King of the Gargoyles, Madeline now has choices she never wanted. She has the ability to take over the entire Gargoyle Kingdom, if she is willing to kill the king. However, looking to prevent takeover, Truce transforms Madeline, thereby granting her the ability to achieve the thing she wants most—death—if she can just find the human recipient for the Gargoyle Gift that she now has to give. It should be easy.

But lives, whether they are lived or not, are seldom simple, and Madeline’s past still stands in her way. Now, only a voyeur in the life of The Boy with the Golden Rod Voice, Madeline’s must reconcile her own life and death, if she ever hopes to have free reign of her soul.

Misty Provencher offers readers, ranging from teen to adult, a shelf full of stories to enjoy. Provencher’s genres include titles in contemporary romance, fantasy, literary fiction, Sci-fi, and even erotica.While Provencher can ride a motorcycle, knows how to Karate chop, and has learned enough French, Spanish, and Sign Language to get herself slapped, Misty’s life is dedicated to connecting with, and understanding, the people who cross her path. She is totally enchanted with the world and spends her days trying to translate her everyday muses into words.

Misty Provencher lives in the Mitten. Knock on her internet blog door at www.mistyprovencherauthor.com and wherever great coffee is sold.


Buy Links:

 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/29YuNdY
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mercy-misty-provencher/1120998675?ean=2940151691758
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/mercy-50
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id955409521


Categories
book promo

Offers and new books

Hi all:

As you know on Fridays I usually bring you  new books and/or writers. With the move and the holidays I haven’t been paying that much attention (I must confess) but I hope to catch up on new books and bring you some. Also, I’ve realised many of my posts didn’t move to this site, so I’ll be refreshing and bringing you  reminders and updates.

But, I thought I’d share something. As part of a promotion I participated in to welcome the new year, I’ve put some of my books on offer.

As Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings should be ready soon, Escaping Psychiatry the three stories with writer/psychiatrist Mary Miller as protagonist, is now on offer for only $0.99.

Escaping Psychiatry
Escaping Psychiatry

Escaping Psychiatry

‘Escaping Psychiatry’ is a collection of three stories in the psychological thriller genre with the same protagonist, Mary, a psychiatrist and writer. She is trying to develop her literary career but circumstances and friends conspire to keep dragging her back to psychiatry.

In ‘Cannon Fodder’ Mary has to assess Cain, an African-American man accused of inciting a religious riot when he claimed that he could hear God and God was black. He might not be mad, but Mary is sure he’s hiding something.

‘Teamwork’ sees Mary hoodwinked into offering therapy to Justin, a policeman feeling guilty after his partner and ersatz father was killed on-duty. Before Mary can extricate herself from the case, things get personal.

In ‘Memory’ Mary goes missing after an incident with Phil, who is manic as he hasn’t been taking his medication. When she is found, she has been the victim of a horrific crime, but they soon discover she was luckier than they had realised.

The epilogue revisits Mary at the point of the trial of her abductor and sees what changes have taken place in her life. Will she finally manage to Escape Psychiatry?

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO           NOOK            APPLE           SCRIBD        

PAGE FOUNDRY   OYSTER  

In case you’re feeling romantic….

I Love Your Cupcakes
I Love Your Cupcakes

I Love Your Cupcakes

Dulce, Adelfa and Storm, the protagonists of I Love Your Cupcakes are business partners, friends and share some “interesting” family connections. All the men Dulce meets only want to talk about her cakes and she’s tired of it. Her friend Adelfa, although she’s a Chemistry Professor, can’t manage to find the recipe for the perfect relationship. And Storm, the third of the partners of their bakery/coffee shop/bookshop/art gallery and ex-fire station, is an artist who is not a master in the art of love. How could they imagine that at the studio of the contest “Do You Have What it Takes to Be the Next Baking Star?” they’d find sexual harassment, cheats, fights and also love? Recipes included (only for cakes, not love!)

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO           NOOK            APPLE           SCRIBD        

PAGE FOUNDRY   OYSTER  

And my most recent, the full Angelic Business Collection:

Angelic Business YA Paranormal Trilogy in one volume
Angelic Business YA Paranormal Trilogy in one volume

Angelic Business. The Full Trilogy

The Angelic Business trilogy tells the story of Pink, a 17 years old girl whose ordinary life gets suddenly invaded by demons and angels telling her she is ‘the elected’ and has the future of humanity, and of Heaven and Hell, in her hands. Or perhaps she isn’t. It depends on whom she believes. Weird things start happening all around her, and her friends and family become possible victims of these paranormal beings. Is Pink the true ‘elected’? And if she is, what will she do about it?

AMAZON (e-book)    KOBO      NOOK      APPLE       SCRIBD      

PAGE FOUNDRY       OYSTER        24 SYMBOLS

Thanks very much for reading. If you know anybody who might be interested, please pass the links on. And if you read them and love them, tell others why by leaving a review. Ah, and don’t forget that the first book in my YA trilogy Angelic Business is FREE! 

Ah, and if  you want to be kept informed, don’t forget to sign for my newsletter:

http://eepurl.com/bAUc0v

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