Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes by Kent Wayne

51t2xvzk2bcl._sy346_Most of us change gradually—over the course of decades. For Crusader Atriya, it will happen in a single, agonizing day. On the edge of a decaying cityscape, Atriya struggles to hold onto his identity as he faces death from both enemies and allies alike. In the process, his old self is torn away, and he catches a glimpse of what he may one day become.

Twelve hundred years ago, humanity left Earth to settle on Echo. Despite hopes for a golden age, an era of darkness fell. Government and corporations merged into the Regime. The military and police merged into the Department of Enforcement. Over half the planet is covered by crumbling cityscapes and the elite live high above, removed and remote from the greater populace on the moon-city of Ascension. Hope lies in Atriya, but before he can break the cycle of darkness and ignorance on Echo, he has to do it within himself.

REVIEW: A thrill to read! | ★★★★★

Whew! I actually finished this right after reading the first book (Echo Volume I: Approaching Shatter) and it actually felt like a complete package like that. In any case, this entire second book is action packed and such a thrill to read, from start to finish. Can’t wait to read the next installment! Hang in there, Atriya!

Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter by Kent Wayne

26308563In the late 21st century, humanity left Earth due to multiple resource shortcomings aggravated by an acceleration in climate change. They settled Echo, a planet that was nearly a carbon copy of Earth except for being devoid of all but the most basic life forms. Fast forward 1200 years later. Echo has endured over a thousand years of dark age. Corporations and government merged early on, becoming the oppressive authority known as the Regime. Military and police merged into the Department of Enforcement, their only mission to crush the huge network of rebels known as the Dissidents. Over half the planet is covered by decaying cityscapes and the elite live high above, removed and remote from the greater populace on the moon-city of Ascension. Hope lies in one man, a former Enforcer named Atriya. But before he can break the cycle of darkness and ignorance on Echo, he has to do it within himself.

REVIEW: Intriguing but unresolved | ★★★☆☆

The story in this novel is unresolved which caught me off-guard. I’m glad the author included the first three chapters of the next book because this one ended where it was getting more intriguing. I bought the next book immediately.

I do like the world-building, but I wish there were more showing than telling because the first half of the book was too much descriptions and background that it couldn’t hold my interest and several times I had to put it down.

I was very much engaged during the second half, though – Atriya being a character I enjoyed following, and the author’s writing style to my liking – that by the time the novel ended, I was ready to dive into the next book.

Atriya has a lot to overcome, both physical danger and mental distress, and from what I’ve read from the next book, it seems like it’s gonna be a thrill ride and I can’t wait.

Boracay Vows (Carpe Diem Chronicles Book 1) by Maida Malby

51rfi8d6kxlTo fulfill one vow she has to break another 

Krista Lopez has five days to fulfill her Turning-Thirty Vow—the promise to do something life-changing in celebration of this milestone birthday. Her plan: give in to her attraction to her Irish-American hunk of a boss Mr. Blake Ryan who is conveniently vacationing in the same posh resort in Boracay.

When he proposes a one-week affair while they’re on vacation, she accepts. It’s only a fling, after all. Krista will not fall for an American. She can’t. She promised her mother.

Promises are made to be broken 

Krista and Blake hope what happens in Boracay stays in Boracay. They want to keep their affair a secret from their colleagues, from her family. But, secrets have a way of coming out. When they’re found out, will Krista and Blake end their affair or will they say Carpe Diem to the promise of a love of a lifetime?

BORACAY VOWS is the first book in the fun and sexy multicultural contemporary romance series Carpe Diem Chronicles.

REVIEW: A sweet and spicy romance | ★★★☆☆

I haven’t been reading a lot of romance novels and I’m not really the target audience for this book, so I don’t know how it compares to other romances nowadays. The sexy parts were definitely spicy for sure but storywise it wasn’t as impressive as I’d hoped. However despite the plot feeling contrived and rushed, the male character quite bland, and the conflict kind of lackluster, it still was quite an enjoyable read especially with all the Filipino touches. I’m also Filipino, so I really appreciate that. It’s also a nice look into multicultural romance, and the relationship between these two individuals – despite their somewhat adult arrangement – was kind of sweet.

So To Honor Him: the Magi and the Drummer by Laura VanArendonk Baugh

51pxexo6golArash is a slave drummer accompanying the Megistanes and other scholars on their journey to find the new king, whose star they have seen in the heavens. He does not understand their enthusiasm for this Jewish child, prophesied centuries before by one of their own, but each night he plays his drum for his master and dreams of earning his freedom.

When they reach Jerusalem, Arash is made an offer by King Herod himself: once they locate the child, return and tell him of this infant king of the Jews. For this small favor, Herod promises Arash’s freedom.

But Herod does not seek the child to honor him, and Arash is trapped in a plot to murder an infant.

Characters from Rome, Babylon, the Decapolis, and the Han Dynasty experience the events surrounding the Nativity in this meticulously researched and historically plausible retelling of the Little Drummer Boy carol.

REVIEW: A charming retelling of The Little Drummer Boy as historical fiction | ★★★★☆

The Little Drummer Boy has always been a song to me – my favorite Christmas song actually – and I never came across a telling of it as a story. So to take notice of this as a historical fiction type novella intrigued me, especially during the Christmas season. (I’ve long since become an atheist, but I respect and appreciate Christmas, be it fact or fiction. It’s a wonderful holiday to spend with family!) I enjoyed reading and learning through the slave drummer Arash’s perspective, and it was eye-opening to discover what it would have been like during that time period. Both Arash and Saman are likeable characters and I would have liked to continue following them beyond the events of this story. Overall, this is a charming retelling of The Little Drummer Boy and I wish there was more to it.

Sorted: Freedom Through Structure by Gillian Perkins

51qz4ri7g9lThis is your chance to finally break free from clutter.
Whether you realize it or not, your home, schedule, and mind are filled with clutter. Perhaps you wonder why you often feel stressed, even if though your life seems tidy. Why do there never seem to be enough hours in a day?
That’s clutter at work. Clutter is hiding in your home, confusing your schedule, and stressing your mind and body. You need to clear away the clutter and create a more organized life so that you are not constantly being distracted by all that stuff. You need to stop letting clutter waste your time and energy, so that you can instead use these resources to live and enjoy life! It’s time to once and for all reclaim that time as your own.
SORTED is your guide to a beautiful destination: a place where you have the time and space you need to think clearly, discover meaning, and embrace life. SORTED is the detailed system that will enable you to finally achieve order for your schedule, home, and future plans.

SUMMON
ORDER
RECLAIM
TRANSFORM
ENJOY
DETERMINE

REVIEW: It’s 40% instruction, 60% encouragement | ★★★★☆

This book feels like 40% instruction and 60% encouragement. That 60% is working because I am very encouraged to apply the principles laid out in this book when my vacation ends. Although both my fiance and I are slightly organized and our place is not that messy to begin with – and we try not to have too many stuff at home as well because we move to a different apartment every two years – I still feel that there’s still a lot of clutter and a complete lack of routine. A routine is something I feel I personally need, especially in the near future, since I plan on doing a personal project in addition to… well, adulting. I think that this book will provide a great guide to achieve a doable routine. I can even start by using the author’s examples and tweaking it to fulfill my needs. I’ve been eyeing this book for some time now, and I’m glad I finally got it. And for sure, this won’t be the last time I’ll be reading this.