Review: “Nephilim” by Jeb Kinnison

A review by Niraja

An electronic version of this book was supplied to the reviewer by the author in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Mt. Hermon, Utah, is the small Mormon town, that Sara is moving to. Jared is a local kid with a few addictions he is working to overcome. The two meet, become friends, and begin to fall in love. Meanwhile, near the abandoned Zion Mine that was once thought to contain treasures of lore, young people begin to disappear. Sara and Jared must fight for their lives and the fate of humanity, as dark angels plot and evil forces arise.

Nephilim, by Jeb Kinnison is a book chock full of US and Mormon history, religious ideology, and mythology. Surrounding this history is a story of two modern day teenagers who must fight evil with faith and love. Mr. Kinnison does a great job showing how the power of love and the power of faith can lend strength to overcome obstacles of daily life as well as the greater forces of evil. His writing is simple and straightforward, yet he is able to create clear pictures of people and places in the reader’s mind. Through Mr. Kinnison’s writing, one can also understand and empathize with his characters’ thoughts and feelings. Even so, there was a lack of depth to the characters; they felt a bit one dimensional. As a result, I was never totally drawn to any of the characters and never fully invested in their struggles. Their struggles, resulting in the final action scene was exciting however, and I appreciated the imagery and creativity of how Mr. Kinnison uses the characters’ connection to online games in their fight against the evil forces.

At the beginning of the story, I appreciated the tidbits of US history as well as the history of Mormons (and a bit of those of Jewish faith). I also appreciated the sections of the book where it describes Mormon religious scripture and how the faultings of men who wrote scripture can account for its clash with some findings of science science and yet the basic tenets of faith still apply. As the story continued however, full chapters of history and religious teachings slowed down and interrupted the story, for me personally. I felt myself wanting to skip and skim some of these chapters in order to get back to the story. As a result I may have missed if there were any significant bits that would have added to the sorry.

Overall, I think that the story had some interesting ideas and plot lines. However, I also feel that the story structure and character depth could have been improved or changed to allow the reader a greater connection and investment in the story.

Rating 2.5/5 stars

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Review: “Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood” by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

Review of "Wonder Woman" by Brian Azzarello and Cliff ChiangA review by Courtney.

Wonder Woman has long been one of my favorite characters and I was extremely excited to read her in comic book form to see if she was as amazing of a character in book form as I had built her up in my head to be. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting the story to be like, but I wasn’t expecting the story I got; it was much darker and grittier than I expected.

This volume starts off with showing us what some of the gods are doing. By gods, I’m talking about Zeus, Hera, Hades etc… One of the gods decides that he needs to take out a girl and another god disagrees and gives her a magical key which sends her to Diana. From there we learn that Diana is actually a daughter of Zeus and Hera is not pleased about it. This conflicts with the original origin story of Wonder woman being created from clay and her mother’s will. Initially no man was involved with her birth which was what made her superior and a hero for women. The book does call this out and goes on to explain Diana’s new origin story. Wonder Woman then has to deal with the consequences of knowing who her father is and her new siblings whom are not pleasant to say the least.

I had a hard time being drawn into Wonder Woman. It was extremely hard to connect with Diana as a character and all of the different gods in the story were confusing. There were a couple of characters that held my interest, but they were minor and I didn’t see a lot of them. I was also unhappy with the way Wonder Woman’s origin story was completely rewritten. I would have liked to have been privy to what she thinking some of the time. She was dealing with a lot of extremely emotional stuff and it felt like I never learned how she really felt about it other than shock and disbelief which are things I would have expected anyways.. Honestly, I wanted more from a character whom I had held on a pedestal for all those years, and this was the volume that made her fall off of it for me, although I don’t think it’s entirely her fault. I am interested in reading more Wonder Woman, although perhaps under a different author.

This volume dark and I would not recommend it for children. I would recommend it for people looking for a different take on Wonder Woman. I would rate it what I did because I have no desire to read more by this author.

My rating: 2.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Paulina and Fran” by Rachel B. Glaser

"Paulina and Fran" by Rachel B. GlaserA review by Julie.

First, thank you to the author, Rachel B. Glaser for allowing me to review her book Paulina and Fran.

Paulina and Fran do not pay much attention to what happens after college. Pauline is a pretty, mean girl who enjoys sex. She likes to be in charge and has a devil-may-care approach to life. Fran is quiet, sweet, and innocent in the ways of sex. They both attend the same art school. On a class trip to Norway, Paulina and Fran spend more time together and end up drawn towards one another in an imbalanced friendship, with romantic undertones. Their bond is strong but not without problems. Fran begins dating Paulina’s discarded boyfriend and a vengeful Paulina sets out to destroy the couple.

The book goes between the two girls in their lives after school, each having their own troubles, with thoughts of the other occasionally in their heads. This leads them back towards each other; is it love or something else?

Paulina was uncaring in how she treated people. It’s difficult to imagine someone as vindictive as she was existing in real life. She acted haughty towards everyone she met, including the person giving her the chance to develop her hair products. Paulina’s attitude came across as very juvenile, and as a mature reader I found it difficult to enjoy the story.

My rating: 2.5/5 stars.

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Review: “Town in a Sweet Pickle” by B.B. Haywood

Town in a Sweet Pickle by B.B. HaywoodA review by Danielle.

It’s the day of the amateur cooking contest in Cape Wellington, Maine. For months, Candy Holliday and Wanda Boyle have planned this event down to the last detail so on the day of when Wanda is a no show, Candy is both annoyed and concerned. Wanda essentially came up with this idea, never one to miss out on an opportunity to be in the spotlight, soaking in all the glory, it is very out of character for Wanda to not even call to say she is running late. As the contest gets underway, a mysterious late entry is discovered by Candy and the judges: a jar of pickles labelled Sweet Deli. While this is supposed to be an amateur contest for the town’s residents to showcase their own skills the judges can’t resist adding the pickles to the contest, anxious to try them and see if they really are the pickles from the Sweet Deli that mysteriously closed down overnight several years ago. The best pickles anyone had ever eaten, all the judges agree.

Suddenly, a member of the crowd collapses, stopping the judging and tasting. It is discovered that several jars of The Sweet Deli pickles are showing up all over town and they are tainted with poison. Panicked and scared, the town’s people turn both to and on Candy, seeing that she is again at the center of another murder mystery in their sleepy little coastal town and hoping that, like all the other tragic events that have happened over the last five years, Candy can solve this mystery too. Now Candy must find out who is behind this latest attack, to clear her name and dig deeper to see if all these murders are part of a bigger plot for the town and quickly before anyone else gets hurt.
I am a huge fan of B.B Haywood and all of the Candy Holliday mystery books, but I have noticed that as the series gets closer to a big reveal of a deeper storyline that each individual book works toward, the series has become more predictable and boring. I am sad to say the quality of the last two books in this series have really fallen compared to the first four. Town in a Sweet Pickle was not only dull with minimal action, but the suspect list for the murderer was as shallow as a kiddie pool. I guessed the murderer’s identity before the second body hit the floor and the twists I usually don’t see coming in this series were lackluster and more of a curve into a dead end plot than a corkscrew in a literary metaphorical roller coaster. I’m not entirely sure how many books are slated for the remainder of the series but given all the background knowledge and foreshadowing dropped over the span of the six books, I’d wager I already know who the real masterminds are behind all of Cape Wellington’s misfortune and why they are so keen on destroying the little town. I will keep my fingers crossed for the next book to not only end the series, but also return the quality to its original glory. Also B.B., can we please get Candy a solid love interest for all of us single girls’ sake?

My rating: 2.5 /5 stars.

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Review: “Save Riley” by Yolanda Olson

Save Riley by Yolanda OlsonA review by Vanessa.

Jaxton Whitlock wants Riley. Ever since the first day he saw her, he knew that she was the one who he could bring into his darkly twisted life, to make her want him, need him, and stay with him. And she had better not disobey or disappoint him…..

Riley is just a lonely bookstore worker with a solitary routine that she doesn’t mind sharing with no one. Yet somehow, right when she actually needs some emotional support a strange handsome stalker with a beautiful foreign accent suddenly shows up in her life. She doesn’t like his controlling attitude, but she does like his incredible body. When Jaxton abducts her, taking her from her own life and country and straight into his, she has absolutely no idea what’s in store for her. Despite her growing attraction to his beautiful body, and her increasing submission to his dominant will, she still hopes she might find a way out. But her situation might just be a bigger nightmare than she ever imagined….

As a reviewer I feel obligated to issue this warning to readers: this book is not 50 Shades of Gray, where two consenting adults make a decision to play around in the world of BDSM. This book contains scenes of explicit emotional, physical, psychological and sexual abuse forced on an unwilling victim. For abuse survivors who experience PTSD or other effects from their experiences, I would NOT recommend this book.

That being said, this book does contain some interesting aspects detailing what is essentially an emotionally inverted, darkly mangled love story between a monstrous man and what appears to be a normal healthy woman. Readers at the initial onset of the story will want to downplay Jaxton’s actions, and to possibly believe that maybe he is just a lonely, handsome, albeit sick, man who needs someone to understand him. The author even encourages this understanding of Jaxton as a character through his interaction with his hostage where he is, yes very controlling and psychologically frightening, but not physically abusive at first. Unfortunately, the reader’s understanding is quickly betrayed when it is revealed that Jaxton is in fact an imbalanced, violent, serial killing, rapist. It was somewhat implied that he was not quite as bad as all that, and the reader is unprepared for the drastic turn in their understanding of him. The distinction might seem slight but it makes the turn in the story line jarring, not enjoyably surprising.

Some readers might be able to ride the sudden wave of sick and violent tendencies as a particularly interesting and dark twist to the story line. It was certainly fascinating to see from Jaxton’s perspective how such tendencies were a state of normalcy for him; how he already saw himself as a monster, and all he wanted was to make Riley a monster as well so they could be together. From his logic, Riley’s Stockholm Syndrome-style reaction might have found a believable foothold for the reader. However, the revelation that he is far more sick and twisted than one might have initially thought, makes understanding Riley’s reaction infinitely more difficult. In addition, the author chose to write exclusively from Jaxton’s perspective in the second half of the book. That means the reader gets absolutely no insight into Riley’s feelings or thoughts. Understanding her downward spiral is guesswork at best, and the premise suddenly drops from darkly fascinating to unbelievable. Large plot holes in the timeline make the love story more difficult to appreciate as well. Time jumps forward, and there appear to have been no moments of significance within that time, leading the reader to wonder how the relationship could possibly have developed. It fizzles the enjoyment of the book, which is a real shame as there were some moments of fascinating psychosis which held large potential for the story line.

 

My rating: 2.5 stars/5 stars.

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