Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Reapers Book Review

Reapers Book CoverThe Reapers Trilogy is a dystopian tale with a supernatural twist that takes place in a futuristic, urban setting. Two teenagers, Phoenix and Singapore, male and female Reapers, collect souls of the dead and transport them to the Gateway where they will travel to their final destination. . .or so they are told.


You probably all know by now that Bryan Davis is one of my favoritest of favorite authors. So when he announced he was writing a dystopian story, well, I had to get my hands on it, especially while I’m writing my own dystopian novel.

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book. I knew I was going to like it, but it was so different from Davis’s other stuff. I mean, a Christian author writing about ghosts and people who collect souls? That seemed a bit odd. But I loved this book. It became an instant fave!

Our story takes place in a futuristic Chicago where the world is a much sadder, more struggling place. Not much goes into detail about why the Earth has taken on its dystopian state, but I actually liked that. It gave a bit of a mystery to it that added something to the story. The main character, Phoenix, is known as a Reaper, which is, in fact, a person who collects the souls of the dead. These Reapers transport their collected souls to the Gateway where, supposedly, the souls will have peace. If a soul isn’t reaped, it will roam the world as a ghost until a Reaper finds it and absorbs it in their special, soul reaping cloaks.

Phoenix goes along with the system, just waiting for his time as a Reaper to end. Although he can’t just sit around and do nothing. Even though it’s his job to reap the dead, his conscious doesn’t allow him to sit idly by while people drop like flies. He does his best to smuggle medicine to those in need, even though he knows doing such could get him in big trouble. Still, it helps give him some peace in his lonely, gruesome life as a Reaper. Just until his time is done.

When Singapore, a new female Reaper, pops into his life, Phoenix really begins to question his existence. Maybe the Gateway really isn’t what he’s been told all his life. With the help of Sing and another female Reaper, Shanghai, Phoenix tries to get to the bottom of all the questions and doubts cropping into his mind.

The biggest thing I loved about this story was the pacing. There was never a dull moment. The constant action, intriguing plot, and confusing riddles kept me interested from page one to the last. The writing style was a quick, easy read, keeping you turning those pages fast. Overall, I found the writing in this book a good bit superior to Davis’s other novels. As much as I love his stories (in fact, his Dragons in Our Midst/Oracles of Fire series are my favorite books of all time), sometimes the writing can get a bit cheesy. The dialogue especially in Reapers felt so much more real compared to his other stories. Very rarely did I feel the narration or conversations getting over the top of cheesy. It all flowed nicely, making the characters jump off the pages.

The plot itself was fascinating. I wanted to know what was happening, making it impossible to put the book down. Davis always has a knack for coming up with such intriguing, complicated plots, which is why his stories are some of my favorites. Reapers was no exception. I kept flipping those pages, desperately wanting to discover the answers to all the riddles.

The villain was quite nasty. Which, yes, is a pro in my book. There are some villains you love to hate, and this gal fits that description too well. She kept the characters in a constant state of distraught and made so much tension on those pages. I think *I* physically tensed up when she made an appearance a few times just because I knew something horrible was about to happen. She was not someone you wanted to mess with! All the tension and emotion in the book was all so well done.

The character Singapore (or more commonly known as just Sing) was my favorite. She was a precious girl, but also had so many mysteries revolving around her that intrigued me so much. I love characters that are good but also have deep, dark secrets. So I super, super enjoyed Sing’s role in the book.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t real wild about the Reapers protagonist. Phoenix just didn’t have that loveable nature I’m accustomed to in Bryan Davis’s characters. Now, I didn’t hate him by any means. In fact, sometimes I liked him a lot. But overall I wasn’t crazy about the guy. He had a lot of good morals and was always trying to do the right thing, but sometimes I felt as if his motives weren’t in the right place. He has a lot of growing to do. But that’s not always a con. I suspect by the end of the trilogy I’ll like him a lot. Having a protagonist that needs to learn and grow is usually a key element to a story as long as they do end up the better by the end. So I won’t totally mark Phoenix as a con, he just annoyed me from time to time.

Shanghai also had a lot of problems that got on my nerves. I just never could really like her as hard as I tried. I hope she’ll grow a lot as the story goes on as well.

But Sing made up for both of them, so I won’t complain too much.

Being as how this was a Bryan Davis book, I was expecting a Christian conclusion to why souls could be reaped and ghosts were roaming everywhere. Yes, it was a supernatural story, but Davis always has deep, Christian messages in his tales, so I put up with all the weirdness because I figured it would be explained in some form or another. His other stories have a lot of strange, questionable things going on as well, but there was always a reasonable conclusion to them. Well. . .I never really got my answers in this one. It was all so very supernatural-y I was a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing. I mean, WHY can souls be reaped or turn into ghosts? That’s just not how things are done. BUT, with that said, this was only the first book of a trilogy, and most of the mysteries were not solved by the end. So, I’m giving the author the benefit of the doubt and holding out hope that all will be explained with a good message by the end.

And, as you can probably guess by now, it did have a very cliffhanger-y ending. Sometimes I like those, sometimes I want to scream at the author and ask WHYYY??? With Reapers I was a little bit in between. I felt fairly satisfied by the end, but I also felt like there could have been a little bit more of a conclusion to all the many, many questions thrown across the pages. By the end I was just more baffled than before. But that will just make reading the next book all the more enjoyable.

This book is about death, so there is a lot of morbid imagery going on. And be aware it’s action packed, which means multiple fight scenes. They were never too gruesome, but I’d be very wary of this book for younger readers. There is also quite a bit of intensity to it and some shocking events. It’s a much darker, grittier story than Davis’s other stuff, which I personally appreciate, but I just want to make sure everyone is aware.

Despite a few things I didn’t like, not to mention just the supernatural theme of the story, I loved this book. I couldn’t wait to find free time each day to read it and it kept me up late a few nights. Just know, it is set in first person, which used to would have been a major con to me, but I’ve grown to like first person and it worked well for this story. It was also in general just vastly different from Davis’s other novels, so if you’re expecting his normal sort of thing you might be a bit surprise. But, like I said earlier, there were a lot of elements to this story I found better than his older stuff. It had just the right action, intensity, and intriguing plot that put it on my favorites list. I hope to goodness the next book gets written fast because I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Elan Finally Posting!

Elan GIF

Well, howdy, everybody! Looks like I’m finally getting my turn on taking over. . .excuse me, taking care of Christine’s blog! I think you’ve seen my name mentioned here and there, and I may have poked my head into Cyrus's post for a sec.

“Poked? Your crashed my party. Rained on my parade. Broke my whistle. Stepped on my chicken. Choked my—”

Cyrus! Now who’s the one stepping on people’s chickens? Wait a minute, what does that even mean?

“Well. . .”

Never mind. I’ve been waiting weeks for this. Off with you!

“But I was just—”

*sound of door slamming*

So, where was I? Right! Introductions. I’m Elan, Cyrus’s loving older brother.

*muffled shouting* “Loving? You just locked me inside a clo—”

AHEM. Ignore those strange sounds coming from the background. Probably just a bird or something.

“We don’t have birds where we live.”

Anyways, I’m Elan. Happy to help my author out and give her some free time. You should all be proud of her, she’s been working pretty hard on our story when she can. I mean, she probably could be working a little harder. She appears to spend a lot of time reading and I caught her watching TV a good bit the other day but. . . Haha! Okay, okay I’ll try not to give her a hard time. I hear bad things happen to characters that bug their authors. . .

So are we just talking about ourselves? I’m a little bit lost on what exactly I’m supposed to be doing honestly.

Sooo. . . Um, I’m nineteen. I like. . .food. Not as much as Cyrus though. That boy can stuff so much in his face, probably due to his big mouth.


I guess by now you all know about my wings. I wasn’t born with them or anything, I’m not that much of a freak. They were forced on me by. . .unpleasant people. And they— You know what, let’s not talk about that.

“But they’re surging!”

Cyrus! Are you hacking my post through your port?

“Yep! Should have taken it away before you stuffed me in this closest. It’s kind of cozy in here though.”

You can’t just take over my post like this. I’ve been waiting to do one for weeks!

“Yeah, but you’re being boring. And I thought my adoring fans would like to hear from me again.”

Adoring fans?


You’re delusional.

“And you’re boring. I’ll go away if you actually start talking about something interesting. I mean food? Really?”

Tiff talked about food.

“Yeah, but she did it in a fun way. All I see is ZZZZzzzz’s before my eyes reading your post. Until I livened it up of course. Talk about your wings!”

I’d really rather not.

"Why not?”

You know why not.

“You’re so not fun! Oh, I know! Tell them about the time you fell in the tar pit!”


“Then I will!”

Don’t you dare!

“I’m gonna doooo iiiiittt. Unless you start being interesting that is.”

Interesting, huh? How ‘bout I show them some of your drawings from when you were four or so?

“Welp, looks like this is the end of the post. Someone please ask my brother something interesting so he’ll stop being so boring. Bye!”

Cyrus! CYRUS. Don’t you dare hit that publish button. I haven’t even had my turn yet. Don’t you hit it. Cy—

Monday, May 12, 2014

One Realm Beyond Book Review

(Today I’m snatching my blog back from my characters to review a book, but I suspect they’ll be taking charge of it again very soon.)

One Realm Beyond Book CoverPlot
Cantor D’Ahma waited his whole life for this day. Born with a gift to jump between worlds, the young realm walker is finally ready to leave his elderly mentor and accept his role as protector and defender of the realms.

But mere hours after he steps through his first portal, Cantor discovers that his job will be more dangerous and difficult than he ever imagined. The realms are plagued with crime and cruelty, and even members of the once-noble Realm Walkers Guild can no longer be trusted. To make matters worse, his first assignment---finding a dragon to assist him on his quest---has led him to Bridger, who is clearly inept and won’t leave him alone.

With the help of his new friends Bixby and Dukmee, Cantor must uncover the secrets of the corrupt guild before they become too powerful to be stopped. But his skills aren’t progressing as fast as he would like, and as he finds himself deeper and deeper in the guild’s layers of deceit, Cantor struggles to determine where his true allegiance lies.


I won this book in a giveaway and, well, may have been jumping up and down when I realized I won. Donita K. Paul is one of my absolute favorite authors. Her DragonKeeper Chronicles series and Chiril Chronicles trilogy are some of my favorite books of all time. So when I heard she was writing a story about people who could jump between different realms? Uh. . .givemegivemegiveme!

I was not disappointed.

The first book in The Realm Walkers series was a delight. Donita K. Paul is not shy about her creativity, and that’s what I love about her books. She throws in the most ridiculous, unique ideas and somehow makes them work. Her stories are always full of fun, unexpected surprises, and One Realm Beyond  was no exception.

Cantor, our hero, is finally ready to fulfill his destiny as a realm walker, one who can literally jump from one realm to another. He’s waited all his life to finally embark on his adventures, but things don’t exactly go quite as planned. With corruption spreading across the realms, Cantor is forced to seek help from a bit of a. . .motley group to stop this evil from spreading too far.

My absolute favorite thing about Paul’s writing is her characters. Never in all my years of obsessive reading have I ever come across more unique characters than hers.

First you have Cantor, the independent, spontaneous, and sometimes pretty foolish boy who really just wanted to roam the worlds. His impulsive personality keeps things interesting as he always tends to find himself in some sort of trouble or another. But he means well, and I liked that. Though he often doesn’t make the right decisions, he wants the best for everyone. There was a real humanness to him that I appreciated.

Then you’ve got Bixby who was just an all around delight. How can you not love a girl who wears almost her entire wardrobe all at once? Bubbly is the perfect word for this hyperactive girl. What I really loved about her was the fact that, even though she can take care of herself and is quite the adventurous one, she NEVER is trying to be “one of the boys”, like most stereotypical fantasy females. She’s a girl through and through. Lace is her absolute favorite thing, and she will stop right in the middle of an adventure to rearrange her wardrobe to fit the occasion. Paul deserves a medal for this full-of-personality character. The whole book is worth reading just for the fun that is Bixby.

Bridger is another character who oozes with personality. He’s a shapeshifting dragon. Yes, a SHAPESHIFTING DRAGON. Did I not tell you this author comes up with the most unique ideas? Bridger can shapeshift into anything and everything, which makes him quite useful. Too  bad he counters it with his clumsiness. Poor Bridger, as hard as he tries always tends to find a way to mess things up. But it just makes him all the more loveable. I would almost say he’s my favorite character, but I don’t know if I have a right to say that with Bixby around and. . .

DUKMEE. Ah, Dukmee. He was purely magnificent. His easy-going (but sometimes quite sassy) personality had me squealing every time he was on the pages. He serves as a bit of mentor to the others and does his best to keep the energetic crew in line. I can hardly even pinpoint why I loved him so much, I just did.

As you can see, I could go on and on and on about the characters, but I better stop there. Let me just say this book is worth reading for them alone.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the world itself. This world is entirely separate from the world in the Dragonkeeper and Chiril Chronicles books. Though I found that world a bit more interesting, I still absolutely adored the setting in this book. It still has a very fantasy feel that I love, but there’s something unique about it, almost a tinge of a modern-type living style in a medieval world. I can’t really explain it, but I loved it. It was very well done. Not to mention that there are multiple realms to jump to. (Have I ever mentioned I LOVE world jumping stories?)

This is also a Christian fantasy story, which happens to be my favorite genre. The love of God abounds, represented by the Creator of all things, Primen, the God-figure of the world. Cantor and his companions learn through their trials the mercy of their Creator and to fully rely on Him.

I got so caught up in the fun world and terrific characters, the plot almost got lost to me. Sometimes I felt as if there wasn’t quite enough explanation to certain events and the villains’ nefarious deeds. For a good chunk of the book I hardly even understood what the overall problem was. There were a lot of questions I had that were never answered.

I also felt as if much of the plot was simply random events that didn’t tie much into the overall scheme of things, which may be why I often got confused along the way.

To me, it needed a bit of a thicker, connected plot. While I did LOVE this book, I enjoyed Paul’s other series a good bit better. But, I have to keep in mind, this is only the first book of a series. It was a good “setup book”, setting the rest of the series up for much more fun and excitement. I suspect as the books go on, the plot will get much more deep and interesting.

Also, the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger. Like I said, this book really just felt like a setup for the rest of the series. So thou art warned.

Overall, this book was superb. I find it impossible to not enjoy Paul’s stories. Her fun characters and interesting worlds pull you in from the start. She manages to write stories that are perfect for younger readers and older alike. I highly recommend One Realm Beyond to anyone who enjoys a fun, clean, fantasy adventure.

(I formatted my review a bit differently from my previous reviews in hopes that it would be shorter. I tend to get a bit. . .lengthy when it comes to my reviews. But it didn’t work. >.> Sorry for the long review!

And now that I’m done, my characters are determined to take back the blog so I can continue their story. Elan especially has been pining away for his turn, so expect to see him [hopefully] next Monday.)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Here Comes the Tiff Attack


Tiff GIF


Hello, hello. Tiff here. (I was going to go as far as to even give you a last name but Christine seems to have forgotten to give me one of those. But that’s all right, first names are more fun anyways, right?) Despite not being given a last name (yet), I was very excited to hear Cyrus’s idea of helping our author out a bit with this blogamajig. Being one who is a bit of a poet. . .well, that’s too strong of a word I think, more like one who likes to scribble verses down every now and again, I know what an annoyance it can be when you just want to write and have too many other things going on. There sure isn’t no pause button for your muse, that much is certain.

So what should I talk about? Don’t tell Cyrus and Isaac I’m peeking at their posts for ideas. . .

Looks like they just talked about themselves. Well, I can do that. Funny how easy it is to talk about one’s self, isn’t it? What does that say about humans? We’re quite the silly things.

Myself. . . Well, let’s see. I live with just my Grams. I wouldn’t say life for us has been all candy and cake, but God sees us through every bit of it. I don’t think I have a right to complain or anything. At least we’ve got each other, that’s more than a lot of people can say. I suppose I already mentioned I like jotting down poetry. I think my favorite thing is just those quiet moments in life, where there’s nothing to do but think. I like thinking. That’s when I come up with my poems, or just reflect on life. But that doesn’t mean I enjoy solitude all the time. A good dose of people can be the best medicine you get. Especially people who make you laugh. I think every person should have someone that makes them laugh. I know you’ve already met Cyrus and Isaac, they’re both good at that, making people laugh. They’re great to have as friends. I think you’ll be meeting Elan soon, he mentioned he hopes to get his turn in at some point. He’s a fun guy as well.

Oh, Christine said I should mention that my family is from Canada. I don’t really know why. Apparently Canadians are cool or something. I wouldn’t really know. I’ve lived in a city stuffed inside a big ol’ cube all my life. Grams seems to think it’s important that I know my roots, but we’re all just human inside the Cube, doesn’t seem to matter what race you are. We’ve all got two arms and legs, right? But I am Canadian, if you’re really interested. And I do enjoy ketchup, not that we get it much inside the Cube. Not exactly tomato plants growing off the walls. But what I really like is Asian food. There’s this little Asian restaurant around the corner of our old apartment I used to visit, when I had enough chips to pay for a plate of fried rice that is, which didn’t happen as often as I liked. But when it did, it was magnificent! If I wasn’t stuck inside a Cube, I’d pack my bags and head straight for China. Ya know, if it hasn’t been destroyed. There’s a reason we’re inside a cube. But I won’t get into that.

And I highly doubt all you lovely people popped over on Christine’s blog to read about my food tastes. What can I say? Food has my heart. I’m only human after all. What’d you expect?

Did I tell you about this bakery a couple of blocks down from where I used to live?

. . . . . . . . . .

Just kidding! I’m done discussing food. I promise. (But there really was a bakery.)

All right, guys. You’ve got to get my mind off food, and I can’t think of anything interesting to say about myself so I’m handing it over to you. Ask questions. Ramble about architecture. Tell me your views on mismatched socks. Anything works for me! I love talking with new acquaintances. So chat away!

Tiff Unknown-Last-Name is off for now!

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