Monday, October 13, 2014

Rise of the Battle-Bred Book 1 by V.L. Holt

This review was written by: B
Received: Free e-book from the author
Publication Date of Book: December 11, 2013
Pages: 328
Stars: (4.5/5)

"It's like we have two lives going on.  The one where we try for normal, and the one where we fight to keep it."

Years and years ago, the Warlochs existed as a prominent force.  It was and has always been their goal, even in present day, to have a strong rule over all people.  To better describe them, Warlochs, or Battle Loch, are a group of formidable men who are gifted in the art of magic and are definitely not to be trifled with.  To make their job of conquering mankind easier, they decided to construct a group of humans who would fight as their warriors, doing their dirty work for them.  This task was a long and in depth process that required the most meticulous of work if they wanted to create the perfect human beings.  Searching for just the right women full of health and longevity, of them twenty children were born.  Thus began the  race of the Warriors, or Battle Bred.  While these children were allowed to stay with their mothers until their fifth year, they showed much promise and demonstrated amazing skills.  They were better than any human could ever dream of being.  Some were faster, stronger, and better healers than the rest of humanity.  Their skills and gifts go on and on.  Then, they were taken from their mother's arms to be trained as the ultimate fighting force.  As they matured, they went out and conquered many peoples, but then they realized how confined they were.  The Warlochs used them as simple pawns in their game, and they just wanted to live their own lives.  So, the Warriors deserted their creators, spreading far and wide, falling in love, and having children.  The Warlochs were furious and have since vowed to destroy ever last one of their creations, no matter how long it takes them.

Switching to present day, Jane Burrows is your average girl next door.  She's beautiful in her own way...and just so happens to be a newspaper delivery girl.  All's normal in her humble home in Deer Fjord, Oregon, until one family  made up of a father and a son arrive in the middle of the night.  The son's name is William and he quickly takes a liking to Jane the moment he sees her, and somehow she feels a magnetic attraction towards him too.  For some reason, every time he opens his mouth or looks her way, Jane's face immediately burns red.  William has an uncanny talent to make her blush at the smallest of things.  Of course, it doesn't hurt Jane's thoughts about him when she acknowledges the fact that he has a nice face and toned body.  However, the normal town with the average girl next door suddenly starts to become anything but average as strange things start to happen all around her.  Also, something strange is up with William.  He's not like everyone else.  He's different.  Little does she know, William and his father are Warriors who have been on the run from the Warlochs for years.  The Warlochs have created a new spawn to kill the Warriors, and they are ferocious, killing machines.  Lochspawn are on all of the Warrior's trails, and one has followed William and his dad all of the way from Toledo to Deer Fjord.  Can these two ever have a normal relationship?  Can William ever settle down with Jane and get the courage to tell her who and what he really is?  Maybe no one is safe with his family around if the Lochspawn are going to try and kill him and those around him.  So, how can you explain these two's unnatural longing for each other and how this hot mess will work out?  Read 97 and discover the magic, romance, suspense, and talent that V. L. Holt can bring to the table.

I would like to start off by saying that this book exceeded all of my expectations!  The story of the Warlochs and their creations were just so intriguing.  From page one, I was hooked.  There was something about the story line and history in the book that made it so rich.  I also enjoyed how there was a switch from past to present between the time that the Warriors were being created to the time where Jane and William meet throughout the book.  The story developments and background histories Holt wrote about were absolutely brilliant.  It was intriguing, different, and exceptional work.  I like to think that any and all fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout's Lux series will love this new series!  It's just as enthralling and expertly done!

While some people have a problem with instant love, I don't find it much of an issue while reading books.  Of course, instant love is exactly what happened between William and Jane, and I thought it was quite romantic.  What girl doesn't like the idea of love at first sight?  It's a dream come true in 97!  Also, the chemistry between William and Jane seemed so natural, almost like they were destined for each other.  The point of view changes were also a nice touch.  Holt goes and gives us insight into each of the two's lives and thoughts.  We also get to see part of a Warloch's point of view and his direct past.  However, we mainly get to see through Jane's eyes.

Don't think that just because love is in the air, there's no action sequences.  Have no fear because we get to witness hand to hand combat and magical battles.  (Well, this is how I would categorize William and a Lochspawn fighting each other.)  There's danger, suspense, and a killer plot behind this book.  The ending even left me holding my breath.  This means that I'm dying slowly inside as I wait to get my hands on the next book so that I can read it!  97 was a great way to begin the Rise of the Battle Bred series, and it will undoubtedly get even more amazing as the next couple of books come out!  People better watch out because V. L. Holt has brought a new fantasy/paranormal romance on the scene, and I hope that people notice it.  It's imaginative, enticing, captivating, and exciting.  So, I have exactly three words for you: READ THE BOOK!

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Jesus Jackson by James Ryan Daley

This review was written by: B and C
Received: Free Arc from Publisher
Publication Date of Book: October 7, 2014
Stars: (4.5/5)
Jonathan Stiles is a fourteen year old atheist who lost faith in God a long time ago.  However, his disbelief in the faith was not prevalent in his youth.  Unlike his father, his mother was a devout Christian who instilled faith into her two sons at a young age, but when her oldest child, Ryan, decides that the Bible is nothing but lies in a book that contradicts the knowledge that we have today, like God creating the world in seven days, he tells his younger brother, Jonathan, that it's not real.  Jon quickly believes him and drops the love and hope he had in the Lord.  These two siblings then enter into a quest in which they are seeking a true religion so that they have something to really believe in again.  Compiling a list of what religions can't possibly be true, it seems as though they will never get to the bottom of their mystery.  The list keeps growing and growing until the religions available become smaller and smaller.  Then the worst possible thing that can happen does: Jon's mother finds the list with Catholicism as one of the top false religions.  She goes absolutely ballistic, phoning a special meeting with their priest.  The next school year, Ryan, an atheist teen, is forced to go to a Catholic school and be subjected to ideas he does not believe in.

Fast forwarding to present day, Jonathan is now about to start high school at the same Catholic facility that his senior brother has been at for several years now.  However, just hours before his first day, Ryan is found dead at the bottom of a ravine behind the school.  Starting school in a Catholic environment that's full of people who say that they knew his brother, is just the start of Jon's problems.  He believes that Ryan's death was not an accident.  He was there a few hours before he died and has suspicions on what may have went down.  However, proving himself to be right will not be easy.

Then comes Jesus Jackson, a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to Christ, with the exception of his outrageous clothing style.  He always shows up just when Jonathan needs him, and we find out that he has a very interesting occupation.  Jesus gives clients faith for money.  A free appraisal is even included!  When Jon says that he does not want faith because he is an atheist, Jesus tells him that he can give him faith in nothing.  Being an atheist requires faith in nothing itself, just like Christianity requires faith in God. Finally giving into Jesus Jackson's faith proposal, Jonathan's journey begins with a delve into the unknown and questions that we all have to answer when facing death.

We absolutely loved this novel!  It was a compelling, hard hitting, and emotional read.  The situations and questions that Jesus Jackson entails are subjects that countless people, especially teens, go through.  Doubts show up in young, and even old, minds and challenge the reality of God and his presence.  We believe that Daley addresses these subjects so well and creates a book rich with universal truths.  Faith is believing without seeing, and this is the reality that all Christians face.  Is it possible to prove that God is there scientifically with a one hundred percent guarantee that everyone will believe it?  Of course, the answer is no.  This system of reasoning is exactly what's eating and is so hard for Jonathan to see through.

The big question that kept being presented in the story was, if Ryan died and Jon doesn't believe in God then where did Ryan go after he died?  Heaven can't be an option because atheists don't believe in Heaven, and the idea of black nothingness is not very comforting to him.  For this reason, we see an internal struggle within our protagonist as he figures out what he believes.  We feel as though Daley was very honest with this character.  Jon felt so real, and we like to think that this was a fabulous portrayal of how a teen would react in this situation.  His journey was an honest one, full of earnest feelings and gut wrenching heart ache.  The dull attitude and then profound consumption of despair that overtakes Jonathan was well felt by the reader and expertly written.  

Jesus Jackson was one of our favorite characters in the story.  No one knew of him but Jonathan, leaving a mysterious trail about the origin of this man who bears the same name as Christ.  He had such profound thoughts and ideas to tell Jon towards the end of the book and they were very thought provoking.  However, I would like to point out that this book does not shove religion and Christian views in the reader's face in such a fashion that it becomes preachy and overbearing. . It's simply an aspect to Jesus Jackson that is approached in the gentlest and deepest of ways.

Overall, we proudly recommend this book to all young adults and even older and younger readers to pick up this book and give it a try.  While you may not become hooked right away, give it one hundred pages and you will be whisked away into Daley's amazing masterpiece.  If you haven't checked out the book trailer yet, it's amazing! Watch it, read the book, and hopefully experience what we felt!

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