A very nice return to form by Robert Treskillard in the last book of the Merlin Spiral. Gone are the frequent, confusing visions and dreams, and while dreams and visions are still found they are well-placed, make absolute sense, and progress the plot.

Which is good, because extremely dire times are upon Britain: a withering drought has stricken the land. The Picti are raiding to the north, the Saxons are gobbling up chunks of Britain, and what little of the country that is still in British lands are held by the man who murdered the rightful king, Uther.

Of course Arthur has no idea of his royal legacy, and in fact believes that Merlin is his father. Oh how things are going to change, especially since Morgana’s plan is finally coming into effect.

Merlin’s Nightmare is a tense journey from beginning to end, and Merlin is constantly dealing with fear and the many forms it takes to attack him.

I loved the use of characters from old to new (especially one raven-feather wearing prophetess that I hope to see more of) and the use of the landscape.

If I had any critiques, the ending felt a little out of place with the rest of the book and I didn’t get a definitive ending, the ending just felt like set up for the next book. All in all however, a very fine book that I am glad I read and I can’t wait to read the first book in the Pendragon Spiral!

You may recall a review I did about a month ago about a YA dystopian tale that really got my attention.

That tale was Black Tiger, a story that involved a common girl who turned out to be not so common. Sound cliche? It really isn’t, but if you want to know more, you can check out my review (and others) on Goodreads right here: Goodreads: Black Tiger.

But we are not here to talk about Black Tiger, oh no we aren’t. We are here to talk about the anticipated sequel: Ashen City.

The main reason for this is that today, January 18th, is the cover reveal and launch date extraordinaire! (or something like that)

ashen-city-cover

Yeah! That’s the cover!

Sara was kind enough to let me be a part of her hype team (I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s called), so she gave me all of these lovely little details to give to you lovely people.

The most important of which is that Ashen City launches APRIL 6TH!!!

And to tantalize you further with that wondrous tidbit, here is a blurb:

Make your choice, Ember Carter. And make it count.

Ember Carter has escaped the flames of death. But will she ever be free from Chief Titus? When the orchard goes up in smoke and her family turns up missing, Ember returns to Frankfort hoping to find her brother and father, and to get Titus to drop the death wish he has against her.

But Titus is always one step ahead. When Ember faces him head-on, she’s captured, only to receive another death sentence. But on her way to her execution, plans go a little askew, and Ember finds herself traveling to the one place no one dares travel: Louisville. If the outskirts of Ky were a ghost town, the ashen city is the borderline of hell itself, but it’s the one place Ember can find refuge from the people who want her dead. 

In the ashen city, Ember must learn that being a hero is more than doing what is right because she can, but doing it for the good of the people. And when plans take a turn for the worst, she must decide if it’s worth risking her life to save her country.

 

So yeah, sounds intense, and I am interested to see what will happen to Ember in the next installment.

If you are interested in Ashen City, or perhaps you want to familiarize yourself with the series, there are some resources for you. First, check out Black Tiger On Amazon. Once you have done that, you can stay up-to-date with info on Ashen City at Sara’s Official Site. Also Sara will be going on a blog tour April 6-20 and be giving out information on Ashen City and the series as a whole.

I hope you are excited as I am at the prospect of a fresh, interesting take on the YA dystopian genre and please take a moment to check out Sara’s work.

Blessings to all and remember, what we create matters.

My SPOILER-FREE review of Star Wars: Rogue One is now up on Youtube. Christmas kind of messed with the production a little, so there are some flaws but I hope it is still enjoyable.

You can check it out at: Review of Star Wars Rogue One

Please feel free to leave your thoughts. Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher.

Review of Black Tiger

Posted: December 28, 2016 in Book Review, Review

31690889Black Tiger is yet another nearish-future dystopian adventure involving a teen protagonist. While groans may be heard from large sections of the public for yet another one of these novels, Black Tiger has qualities that set itself apart from most lesser-known teen dystopian stories…and it does it in such a way that rivals and surpasses some of its more well-known brethren (a la The Hunger Games or Divergent).
The main protagonist, Ember, will undoubtedly draw comparisons to one particular “girl on fire,” but the differences between the two characters become pretty apparent from the very beginning. Ember is a farmer, a bit of a peacekeeper, and has a major temper that goes far beyond anything Katniss Everdeen hoped to ever do. That said, there are still similarities; a love triangle and the main character shifting from apolitical to major figurehead being just two of them…but the similarities are never enough to cause a reader to pause and go “this seems like it was taken from another, more popular, dystopian novel.”
And that really is Black Tiger in a nutshell: similar but different. The differences are refreshing and honestly quite unique. The mega-city in Black Tiger is located in Kentucky? Really? Kentucky? Yes, indeed, and it is awesome the book takes a risk like that. One other unique thing that really struck me as unique was the punishment of human torches, people pulled upside down on a pole and burnt to a crisp. Yes, it’s as terrible as it sounds, it’s basically the book’s version of being crucified, epitomized most by the fact the government places all the human torches in the Rebel’s Circle surrounding the capitol, a reminder of what any defiance to the government will get you.
Speaking of crucifixion, God is talked about in this book. There is a slow build to it, as Ember is not a Christian, in fact there is only one other character who talks about God. If you don’t like that sort of thing, you need to realize it’s in there, but it shouldn’t take away from your enjoyment of the story or the quality of writing, it all works pretty seamlessly. I don’t think it was implemented perfectly, but writing about God in fiction is really hard to do, and the author did a very good job at making feel mostly natural.
If I’m being perfectly honest, YA dystopian is not my favorite genre. There is a lot of familiar ground that is tread in Black Tiger, but it is never tired, and I never once was bored. I kept turning pages wanting to find out what happened next. I will admit the whole thing with the different blood-types didn’t work for me. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that I hope that the idea is expanded upon in the next book. The characters (especially Rain) are written very well, so none of them feel like clichés or just another version of a more familiar dystopian character. There is riveting action and intrigue, but this book contains some wonderful philosophical bits. You really should give this book a fair shake as it dares to ask the big questions without ever once feeling like you are reading just another YA Dystopian novel.

The last movie in the Night at the Museum trilogy was significant in that it was the last live-action film that Robin Williams was in. It was also the second-to-last film that Mickey Rooney performed in as well.

It was nice seeing these two legends one last time, and it was nice seeing Secret of the Tomb return to the more wonder-filled and smaller scale story style of the original movie.

It’s a fun family comedy that most can appreciate, but I realize that it’s not for everyone, and it is by no means an Oscar-worthy film…but it does what it is supposed to, which is to make you laugh and to make you marvel just a little bit at the wondrous world we live in.

If you want my full thoughts on Secret of the Tomb, and the Night at the Museum series as a whole, check out my video on Youtube: Review of Secret of the Tomb

Review of Raving Fans

Posted: November 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

Raving fans is a customer service book quite unlike any other. It’s fantastical take and humor on a usually boring subject makes the book an interesting read. We follow around a newly hired Area Manager as he learns the three secrets of customer service from friends of his Fairy Godmother, Charlie. I told you it was a fantastical take on customer service.

The book is written in a very easy to read and understand style. I would say, depending on how fast you read, you will finish this book in about 2-3 hours and you will be entertained all the way. I can honestly say that this is the only customer service book I have read that has made me laugh out loud.

The only thing keeping this book from getting five stars is that it is extremely overpriced at retail price, but the more important thing is that this book does show it’s age in a spot or two. The book is 25 years old, and despite it being continually in print during that time, the authors have not addressed the major changes in purchasing practices of the public in the present. I’ll agree, most of the things concerning customer service have stayed the same but this book could do with a fresh coat of paint to address new purchasing patterns…otherwise Raving Fans will truly cease to be revolutionary.

If you want my more in-depth thoughts on the book, please check out my video review at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIz7w…

Review of Star Wars: Aftermath

Posted: November 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

Aftermath is Disney’s attempt to bridge the gap between Episode 6 and 7, it even has the annoying “Journey to The Force Awakens” banner on it. Fortunately, this is about is bad at it gets, and we are given a fairly interesting story with decent enough tension.

Fan favorite Wedge Antilles gets the ball rolling, and we even see Rae Sloan, but the book is about the new characters. The new characters are pretty well developed and I was emotionally invested in them, and the premise is interesting enough: save Wedge, reconcile mother and son, and capture high level Imperials having a secret meeting.

Aftermath follows this simple formula and does it without any of the typical corniness of Star Wars books, which is something I had not experienced in a Star Wars novel before, so I tip my hat to you, Chuck Wendig. Where I do not tip my hat, is some of the ham-handed insertion of a sensitive subject that felt that Wendig was forcing it into the story. And while the author succeeded once with its implementaiton, the other two times fell absolutely flat.

Aftermath is a fairly solid book that has enough pitfalls to prevent it from being a really good book.
If you want my full thoughts on the book, check out my reveiw at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_B7S…