Fawkes – Nadine Brandes [BOOK REVIEW]

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Fawkes by Nadine Brandes is one of those books that draws you into a world, enlightens you with its magic, and then sends you back to reality, so you can enlighten others while you glow!

Nadine used the history of Guy Fawkes and the failed attempt to blow the parliament as a base to her story, that follows Guy Fawkes’s son, Thomas, into an incredible magical journey.

‘’A foundation of truth represents what life was intended to be.’’

Thomas is about to get his mask, that is supposed to make him control one colour. He also happens to be affected with the plague, that turns his face into stone. His family are all Keepers, and he, by default is a keeper too. But things are never that simple. What will happen when he might not get his mask, and the plague is about to kill him?

We follow the journey of Thomas through a first – person perspective. He feels incomplete when he has the plague, and all his life he is waiting to get his mask, and to be able to control a colour. Any colour, even though he prefers Grey.

Only with my mask could I bond with a color.

But on the day when he is about to receive his mask from his dad, he learns that his father is in London, and is not willing to come.

Scared for his life, and angry at his father, he goes into an adventure to find him. His father is Guy Fawkes, a Keeper that is involved in a Gunpowder plot, which will kill the whole parliament, and most importantly, the king of England, who is the cause of the plague!

Thomas joins the plot, knowing that this is the last chance for him to survive the plague! If the king is dead, the plague would be gone. But will it?

I never imagined a single moment of acceptance could reverse a year of bitterness and prejudice.

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Through Thomas’s eyes, we see a war between the Keepers and the Igniters. It might be a metaphor for the Catholics and Protestants, but I won’t go into this now. The Keepers were loyal to one color only, and Igniters wanted to control all colors. Igniters used the White Colour as a source to control all power. But White Color doesn’t obey like other colours do – the White Color makes people go crazy for power and glory. Something similar to the ring in Lord of The Rings.

‘’Igniters believe that for each Keeper that dies, one person is cured of the plague’’.

We see Thomas caught between two sides – the keepers want to be free of oppression, and the Igniters want to be free to use color speech as they wanted. On such a crossroad, Thomas wants to find the truth for himself. But there is no time, and not many people that he can trust.

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‘’You’ve given me your truth. I have to find it for myself for it to become mine. And curiosity is the first step’’.

On his journey, his relationship with Emma becomes stronger. She is an Igniter, and they share  different beliefs, and she also knows he has the plague. But she is still around, and she accepts his as he is. And Thomas, taught to always hide his face, because otherwise he would be killed by the Igniters, is able to relax around Emma. This will teach him to accept Emma as she is, once she tells him her secret.

I loved the character of Emma. She is a strong person, but unable to show her true self due to the fact that she is not like the others, that she is not the same. In this book it is also shown quite well how women were underestimated in the 17th century. How they were thought to be unworthy. The only bit I didn’t like about Emma is that, even though such strong character, she would have never fought for herself if Thomas wasn’t there to ‘’save’’ her.

This book is a lovely story about Thomas, and how he finds his true self, how he is not afraid to stand up for the things he believes in, how he learns that he shouldn’t be hiding his true self anymore and embrace his fears, as they might turn out to be the best things that ever happened in his life.

‘’Take a breath, Thomas. There has always been fear. There will always be fear. It’s up to us to stand tall, even when the fear demands we bow to it.’’

So yes, my lovely readers, I loved this book so much! I loved the magical moments, I loved how it turned out to be an amazing plot, based on real history events. I loved Thomas’s character, and I loved Emma. I loved Guy Fawkes as well, especially in the end of the book.

If you happen to love these types of books, please get your copy as soon as you can. You won’t regret it at all!

I have received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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Cryptid – MIchael Kott [BOOK REVIEW]

Cryptid by Michael Kott is the second book of these series. It is a sequel to the Piasa, and you can find my review on that here. I have to admit and say that I didn’t enjoy Cryptid as much as I would like to, and you’ll find out why soon.

About the book:

Cryptid continues to tell the story of Sara, a girl that survives a car accident, when all her family dies. While in the first book she meets Mike, who gets her a job as his assistant in his adventures, in this book we will see Sara still maintaining that position, but a little bit from the background. When a few cats that look like leopards will appear at the museum, people start to get scared, and the police wants to shoot the animals. Then Mike and the team come to the rescue, to try and identify what the cats are, and save them from dying.

Review:

In Cryptid, we will be introduced to a couple new characters, some of which I happened to be very fond of (Hi Xenia!). The good thing for me was, that I could get a bit of a break from all the Sara moments. The thing I didn’t like was the fact that their background was too short and untold, and they kept making decisions based on the past that we didn’t know (I will mention Shannon’s decision here).

My favourite moments of the book, were, of course, those where Sara wasn’t there. Followed by my previous review of the Piasa, I sometimes like the character of Sara. But I  also couldn’t agree with her. I couldn’t understand her character, behaviour and decisions. Maybe it is because of my own childhood. I mean, luckily, I haven’t lost any of my family, but I have lived without both parents in those crucial years, raised by grandparents, while having a little sister to look after, and having an aunt similar to Pamela to guide me through my worst. But I was never this arrogant, self-centered and desperate for ME-ME-ME attention like Sara. Whoa, that lady really can push my limits sometimes.

The same goes with everyone around Sara that constantly tries to please her, and make sure she’s not upset.

And what is the reason that all of the characters are losing their shoes somewhere?

Unlike Piasa, in this book the focus is only on one big event, at two main places – the park and the museum. Apart from a few places in the introduction, the whole story keeps us around these places, which I particularly didn’t mind, but some people may or may not find it boring.

I was a bit sad because I really like Mike, and he wasn’t as present with his story as his was in the other book. I expected to see and learn a bit more of him.

Not to be all negative though, there were a few moments that I really enjoyed! I loved to read about the sisterhood of Pamela and Xenia, and the beginning of the book was fantastic. Xenia is also such an incredible character, and I really admired her. I also loved the explanations on the different kinds of cats and their latin names and meanings.

All in all, I am a bit sad to say that this will be a 3 out of 5 stars. Especially because the author, Michael Kott, is a dear friend of mine, and I greatly enjoyed the Piasa. I may have expected a bit too much of this book, that left me disappointed. But I do believe that some of you might greatly enjoy it! If you like Young-Adult fiction, and stories about mystery animals and cryptids, you will definitely enjoy this book!

Thank you Mike, for sending me a copy of the Cryptid, in exchange for an honest review.

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Wide Open – Amy Bodossian [BOOK REVIEW]

Wide Open is one of the few books of this kind. I personally am not a huge fan of poetry, and I don’t enjoy reading it too often, but sometimes a book comes and makes me wonder I act this way. Amy Bodossian truly wrote something beautiful and unique, and I look forward to reading more poems from her.

I have to say a huge thank you to Outside the Box Press, for letting me have a copy of this book in an exchange for an honest review.

Wide Open (Published by Outside the Box Press) is a book that contains poetry written about love and sex. Amy writes with so much emotion and oh, the feels! It can be very straightforward and harsh at times, and it can be warm and loving as well, and it is a perfect blend of feelings and emotions that make you see the art of love and sex in a completely different and unique way. In the book you can also see a lot of amazing illustrations made by Amy, which perfectly represent each poem.

I wouldn’t say I loved it, because I don’t easily love books, but I have to mention that this one did surprise me in a very pleasant way. It is incredibly open and very thorough, and I believe it deserves a place on your shelves as well. It makes your body shiver from her words in an unusual way, and it helps you realise to always keep your heart open – to new loves, to new experiences, to new adventures, to new opportunities!

How A Good Person Can Really Win – Pavan Choudary [BOOK REVIEW]

I have received ‘’How A Good Person Can Really Win’’ through Goodreads, in exchange for an honest review. I will honestly have to say that I had a very hard time finishing this book, and even that took me months, while I was reading other books inbetween. My full rating is 3 out of 5 stars and here is why:

  • About the book

How a Good Person Can Really Win is a self-help book that is supposed to help the good people to win in life. It is a book that is designed to show you how you can be one of those people that isn’t bad, but still be successful and prosper in life. The book is split into three parts, and it focused on both the bad and the good persona, comparing both sides and pointing out the differences between them.

  • The Good and the Bad

The thing that put me off this book a lot was the focus of the bad person. Yes – I do realise that the book is split into a half bad / half good part, and yes – I do realise that we need to see the difference. But when you consider yourself a good person, and have this book in your hands, that is supposedly made to make you realise how you can win, all you read is about how bad the bad person is, and the response (solution) to this is an advice for the bad man to change.

This has occurred on so many occasions, that made the book feel useless for me.

Even though I have to agree that the ending is focused on the good persona and there are actually a few tips on how you can win over the bad guys – most of the advices were for the bad people to not do those nasty things they keep doing.

So my question to the author here is: Who would be the target audience in the book? The logic answer is – the people that claim themselves as good-makers and believe in a better tomorrow. But what the book says is – a book that tells bad people what they are doing and how that is wrong in 100 different ways. Too bad that those people are not the ones reading the book.

On the other side though, I have to admit that there were many excellent examples of real life, and many situations that were realistic and relatable. There were a few very excellent advices as well, and I am sure that I have learned a few things from this book.

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Piasa – Michael Kott [BOOK REVIEW]

The author – Mr. Michael Kott sent me this book for an honest review! I honestly enjoyed reading every single page, and I couldn’t put the book down, which deprived me from some sleep a few nights. This is what I thought about PIASA:

This is a very warm story that covers the life of Sara, a young little girl (don’t call her that, she’ll get angry!). My apologies – a young fifteen-year-old lady that survives a car accident while her whole family dies. In times when destiny is hard to accept, she will get involved into resolving the mystery behind the legend of the Piasa, and this adventure might actually mean a new start in life for her!

For a lady of this age, this destiny is extremely hard to accept, and on top of that, she has a few scars that will mark that experience probably for the rest of her life.

Her life is not easy – she lost her family, and all of her belongings, and here she is now, at her Aunt Claire’s hotel, still unsure whether she is ready to move forward with life.

Sara is a very unusual character. I have to admit that at times, she would made me cringe. Some of the things she says and does doesn’t comply with my opinion, but there are things that I really loved about her. I loved the way she is coping with all the challenges she has, after everything that she’s been through, her ability to admire someone the way she admires Mike, to start believing again, even despite everything that happens around her, to seize the day and enjoy the moments that life can offer. I love how she would find hope even in the darkest of places.

Even though I really liked the character of Sara, my favourite character has to be Mike. The way he thinks, acts and motivates everyone around him is unique. Mike is one of the characters that will make you realise and question some of your decisions in life.

The only character I couldn’t connect to at all was Pamela. I honestly am not sure why – it might be that there weren’t too many situations involving her that would make me care.

The story hooks you onto it and it is hard to put it down. I have never heard about the legend of the Piasa before, and one part of me wanted to find out before reading the book. I am glad that I didn’t, as I found out slowly about it, page by page, and that is an experience that will stay with me.

I love how it is presented that life is so unpredictable in so many ways, that mysteries are all around us, and that we are able to move forward and win – only if we wish to believe that we can do it. And sometimes, we are in doubt, and that is when precious people come into our lives – it all happens with a reason.

The only thing I wish was different about ‘’Piasa’’ is that I could’ve read this amazing book way, way sooner, when I was fifteen. I can’t wait to read the second book of this series – Cryptid.

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The Help – Kathryn Stockett [BOOK REVIEW]

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

This is a book where coloured maids in 1963 are afraid to speak up.

This is a book where they gain the courage to tell a white lady what actually happens inside their lives.

No one is ready to hear the truth, everyone is scared for their future, but bravery is a strong attire to have, and the maids prove they have what it takes.

Lot of courage, lots of excitement, anxiety and me biting my nails over and over again, but definitely book that’s worth reading. And definitely a book that will open your eyes about what actually happened back then.

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My Trip To Adele – R.I. Alyaseer [BOOK REVIEW]

My Trip To Adele is a book unlike any other. We are introduced to three different life stories, all of them connected to Adele in a wonderful way, and every one of them will teach us many lessons, bring tears or laughs on our faces and remind us who we are and why we exist in this world. This is a book of how a singer or a song can connect so many people and touch so many hearts in a way no one else could. A book about keeping traditions and breaking them, a book about love, bravery and most of all – HOPE.

Let’s meet Elias. A Moroccan man that has lived in Rome long enough to believe he is Italian, with a Moroccan dust left in his soul. Through Elias, we will find out about how many years ago, he paid a prostitute for her services and fell in love. His love for Malika is undescribable. While other men would pay hundreds to only have her body, he would pay thousands more to have her soul, even for a night. He would never touch her body, but they would spend hours and hours talking about meaningful and meaningless things, about what it is like outside this city, outside this country, what can the world offer…

Malika has so many wishes and hopes, she sells her body so one day she would be able to leave this town, leave her family, and explore the world. Get married and have children, and be successful, and learn the English language. When life parts them from each other for eight years, Elias goes back to the same old city to look for her, and Malika has already left town. Sharing one special singer, there is only one place where he can find her – an Adele concert in Rome.

In Las Vegas, we have Yaser and Mariam, a married couple that lost its sparkle many years ago. Both are surgeons and spend a lot of time at work. And when they come home to the kids – everything is a routine. Yaser pretends to enjoy his TV Show evenings and the Prayers that Mariam wants to attend. He pretends to believe in God just to please his wife. They are not a happy family inside the house, but Mariam makes it sound perfect on the outside – they have the perfect social media photos, and they go to the most expensive places on a holiday, what could be so bad? He feels trapped inside a routine and wants to escape, but he also believes in saving his marriage, and following his marriage counselor, they are trying to revive their happiest memories, and that is when they decide to go to an Adele concert in Rome.

On the other side of the world we will meet Nadia and her son Waleed. Nadia is a strong woman that has been coping with her now ex-husband’s betrayals. She raised her son oh her own, and the love she feels for him is indescribable. Only a mother knows how much she adores her son. When her son gets hurt on her ex  husband’s third wedding – Nadia decides that she would fight for her and her son, she will no longer be trapped, and she will finally enjoy a lovely holiday with her son – going to Adele’s concert in Rome.

This book is written in an amazing, fast pace, and you will never notice how you have scrolled through the pages and hours have passed. There were times where the character’s description was basic, and sometimes Adele’s presence would be too exposed, but all the characters are different in their own way, and every story has its purpose and its lesson.