(Not So) Quick Review – Echo Volume 3: The Dialectic of Agony

Echo Volume 3: The Dialectic of Agony by Kent Wayne

34114908While Crusader Kischan Atriya fights to keep his life and sanity, his mentor Chrysalis Verus undertakes a perilous journey across the wilds of Echo. Their separate paths intertwine in the unlikeliest of places and across all borders, both psychic and physical.
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REVIEW: Glorious mech and “magic” | ★★★★☆

This third installment is a more in-depth exploration of the world of Echo as well as the psyche of our broken hero Atriya and his enlightened mentor Verus. Both the sci-fi and supernatural elements in this were enjoyable to read, most especially the intense action. A few philosophical elements were also inserted here, and I especially enjoyed Verus’ interaction with the “Flow-riders” as well as Atriya’s conversation with the Regent.

Verus’ journey in the desert was a change of perspective and change of pace from the previous book’s fast-paced action which centered on Atriya. She does eventually encounter some action herself, this time with manipulation of Kaia (which is somewhat akin to magic) rather than advanced military tech like Atriya. Gribbles the Tokage lizard added a little bit of quirk, and that scene with Gribbles and Atriya was completely unexpected but enjoyable to read nonetheless. I’ve seen documentaries about dolphins and orcas lifestyles and intelligence, which really fascinated me, so a particular scene with the dolphins was quite endearing.

Intriguing as Verus was, the highlights of this book, though, were definitely Atriya’s scenes. From him sleeping in such a horrible apartment to his epic battle in the Wastes with his Exo, I was with him in both slow scenes and intense scenes. I was genuinely full of dread when I came across the term Enhancile (what? again?? now???), and was internally screaming for him to stop boosting when he kept doing so (have you not learned from Cityscape 87?!). The world-building continues to be excellent and the way Atriya navigates it is thought-provoking. The sci-fi elements and military jargon are so cool to read as well and I especially like the terms Judge, Jury, Enhanciles, Enforcers, Crusaders, Specters, Harvesters, Orbital, Ascension, Regent, Dissident, Kaia, “approaching shatter”, and how they are used within this world (“Wraiths” not so much, but we’ll see). The epilogue in the hospital was especially heartbreaking because I know a lot of people are suffering that way in the real world.

It’s so ironic that Verus considers Atriya as someone incredibly important, while Atriya himself is questioning his own purpose and survival.

(Some things I didn’t like were when the narration gives descriptions of specific real-world things which are not part of the current timeline of Echo because it takes me out of the story and reminds me that I’m reading a book where apparently the author is a fan of this and that. It makes me think of the author rather than the story, and therefore takes me out of the story. Like maybe describe a pose as something cool or majestic rather than saying she looks like a samurai; or describe the music as something empowering or energizing rather than saying it came from Pacific Rim, “an Old Earth classic”. Basically I’m not fond of these Old Earth references, although I do like that Atriya is old-fashioned, with his revolver and such. Note that I love Pacific Rim and the soundtrack, but some of my friends did not, and it didn’t do as well as it should have in the box office so I don’t think it will be a “classic”… see? I’m thinking these things when I really didn’t need to when reading this story. Good thing there were no references to Evangelion or Gundam or anything like that, then my mind will go to emo fifteen-year-olds piloting mech LOL. This also goes for directly naming the specific martial arts styles that Verus uses as the fight is still ongoing. It is impressive indeed but you can’t be thinking of the specific name of the fighting style your friend is using while you are in a life-and-death situation. That only happens in anime! But then, I’ve never been in a life-and-death situation so what do I know? The phrase “spooky action at a distance” also took me out of it because that’s what Einstein called quantum entanglement, and I felt that it wouldn’t take me so much out of it if the narration had just mentioned “quantum entanglement” instead. My brain got interrupted in the middle of the story because it reminded me that Einstein was wrong about quantum entanglement. I can’t be thinking about Einstein while reading a book that had nothing to do with Einstein. But anyway, this is just me. Other readers might love all these references. And with that, I’ll end my nitpicking. Also, sorry for nitpicking.)

Overall, definitely a compelling read. On to the next one!

Review originally posted on Amazon.

Quick Review – Echo Volume 2: The Taste of Ashes

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!

Review originally posted on Amazon.

 

Quick Review – Echo Volume 1: Approaching Shatter

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.

Review originally posted on Amazon.

 

My 5 Thoughts on Aletheia

51ow2rBQekLAletheia by Megan Tennant is an excellent dystopian fiction that is gritty and depressing in all the right ways. Here are 5 things I want to talk about without giving away too much:

1 | 736

First of all, I respect the guts of the author for giving the main character a number for a name. It seems to me quite risky. I, myself, immediately forgot her name except that it started with a 7. Was it 736 or 763 or 793 or 765…? And because it was written in first person perspective, the name is not stated as repeatedly as it would have been in third person. It’s very easy to forget. And I didn’t know how to pronounce it either – is it seven three six, or seven thirty-six, or seven hundred and thirty-six, or…? This character is giving me problems just with her name and it definitely contributed to my lack of interest in the beginning of this book.

As it turned out, my overthinking of this character’s name is actually a good representation of her complexity. Her complexity starts from her appearance and continues on to her psychology. She goes through so much, physically and emotionally, and we get a showcase of her toughness and vulnerabilities.

2 | Story

Aside from the characters, I feel that the story and how it plays out is well-crafted, even though the writing may need some improvement in some areas. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is beautiful and has that poetic quality to it, but it can slow the pace down in certain scenes, such as in the beginning and in action scenes. But overall, the story took me on a ride where there are times I am overwhelmed with emotions, or just overwhelmed.

3 | World Building

The world-building itself feels much more realistic than other dystopian novels like Hunger Games (which I like despite the world-building) or Divergent (which I didn’t like because of the world-building) and it just seems like real effort is done to flesh out this book’s world-building and I really appreciate that. (Disclaimer: I haven’t really read a lot of dystopian books.)

4 | Characters

I’d rather not delve too much into this topic because it could involve spoilers. But I would say that the character arcs that are offered here, and how they impacted 736’s psyche and mentality, are the best thing about this book. 736 is just one of many compelling characters who have their own unique quirks and personalities and their own unique way of dealing with their circumstances. If I were to pick the top 5 characters that intrigued me the most, in no particular order, I would say they are Arson, Rose, Seth, 1633, and 736 herself (OK, it’s kind of like in alphabetical order). These are also the characters that made the most impact to me. Jason is also a decent character, but because he’s very much like the tortured artist type that I’ve seen many times before, I don’t find him as compelling as the others.

5 | Romance

Although Jason was not one of my favourite characters, I find the romance between them sweet. And for everything 736 is going through, she deserves a little sweetness in her life. So I’m definitely rooting for them.

OVERALL | ★★★★★

Disclaimer: This rating is based on my overall enjoyment of the material, whether it was time well-spent, whether it was worth the money, whether I would be likely to repeat it. It is not a measurement based on structure, technique, flaws and perfections. FYI.

Side Note: When I first picked up this book (digitally) it reminded me of two things. The title reminded me of my sister whose second name is “Althea” – very close to Aletheia. She was named after my aunt whose second name is also Althea. The second thing is pertaining to the iris flower, which is on the cover of the book. There is a quote that I love from the anime Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuioku Hen. It goes:
“The scent of an iris is strongest during the rain, even if it is a rain of blood.”
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#INDIECEMBER

This book is part of my participation to the Indiecember Reading Challenge, where I wrote a blog about here.

This book crosses out the following squares (circle = bingo style, cross = flush style):

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I’ve actually already completed the middle row (yay!) so now, I’m aiming to cross the whole board! (I’ll post an indiecember update soon!)

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this review.

My 6 Thoughts on The Savior’s Champion

51lsmxtzmelThe Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci is a book I would highly recommend to adults looking for action, twists, and steamy romance. I really enjoyed this book. Here are 6 things I want to talk about without giving away too much:

1 | The Tournament

This book is all throughout about a fight-to-the-death tournament, where out of twenty competitors, there will be only one champion. But this tournament is not the gladiator arena type, although there are elements of that. There are different challenges the participants must face and some rest and relaxations in between, where we meet the non-competitor characters as well as get know the competitors themselves and their rapport with each other.

The Labyrinth is a significant part of this tournament, and although it is not the most clever labyrinth-type quest I’ve encountered (I watch anime), it certainly is able to bring characters some tough and shocking moments. We get to know the clear bad guys and the death of some guys.

The challenges that come after also give us a thrilling ride as we root for Tobias, the main character. Some challenges are as harmless as reciting a poem to the Savior, while others are as nerve-racking as… to avoid spoilers, let’s just say people get harmed and not only by other people. This book definitely does not shy away from death, even gruesome deaths, and a few heart-breaking ones.

Overall, I can say that the action and intrigue within the tournament, and even out of it, is well done in this book.

2 | Tobias & Leila

I was not happy with Tobias in the very beginning especially his reasoning for entering the tournament. He assumed he would die without a doubt, as he repeatedly told his friend, yet still he entered for the money, despite his mother still grieving the loss of his father and the disability of his sister. Tobias, you realize if you died your mother would then be grieving for another loved one – you think money can pay for that grief? Grr. I understand he has to enter to get the ball rolling, but another reason would be helpful. In the tournament he keeps getting angry because people have killed people and it’s like, Tobias, isn’t that what you expected in the first place? It’s not a beauty pageant!

What endeared me to Tobias was his personal predicament which seemed impossible and so I feel for him and just want to hug him. He has no intention of marrying the Savior, having fallen for Leila, and yet he must aim to complete it to keep his life. That feeling of having to do something frustrating and difficult, when even the glory of having achieved it doesn’t get you a reward, or the reward that you want, can be overwhelming especially when you have enemies out to get you. That feeling of being trapped between a rock and a hard place is very familiar to me (though in my case romance has nothing to do with it), and I definitely understand his frustrations.

His love interest, Leila, is definitely a character with character. She is interesting, smart, and competent, and the mystery behind her is compelling.

Their love story and the impossibility of their situation kept me engaged along with the action and intrigue. However, let me warn you that there are sexual content here that may be ohh-la-la to some, but cringey to others. As for me, I would say I don’t normally enjoy that type of content, but I’m not unhappy that it’s there.

3 | Supporting Characters

The one thing I will say about the supporting characters is that they are diverse, with no two characters alike. Delphi is easily a favorite.

4 | Antagonists

The only antagonist that really mattered to me was Kaleo because his character’s interaction with Tobias is just so interesting to read. The main villain of the story is not fully fleshed out and I’m hoping we get to know more about him and his motivations and background in a sequel.

5 | World Building

The world-building in this book is very minimal, including any fantasy elements or magic. It may or may not be intentional, considering the story is told just within the context of the tournament and very little outside of it. I’m expecting more world-building in a sequel.

6 | Profanity

The profanity and lewdness of some characters in this story can be very distracting sometimes. Therefore, I would not recommend this book to readers who are not used to this mature content because they will find it off-putting.

OVERALL | ★★★★☆

Disclaimer: This rating is based on my overall enjoyment of the material, whether it was time well-spent, whether it was worth the money, whether I would be likely to repeat it. It is not a measurement based on structure, technique, flaws and perfections. FYI.

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#INDIECEMBER

This book is part of my participation to the Indiecember Reading Challenge by Megan Tennant, where I wrote a blog about here.

This book crosses out the following squares (circle = bingo style, cross = flush style):

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I’m going for the middle row, but I’m hoping to cross the whole board!

Hope you enjoyed this review! Have you read this book? If so, did you like it too? Or if not, will you pick it up?

Quick Review – The Savior’s Champion

The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci

51lsmxtzmelTobias Kaya doesn’t care about The Savior. He doesn’t care that She’s the Ruler of the realm or that She purified the land, and he certainly doesn’t care that She’s of age to be married. But when competing for Her hand proves to be his last chance to save his family, he’s forced to make The Savior his priority.

Now Tobias is thrown into the Sovereign’s Tournament with nineteen other men, and each of them is fighting—and killing—for the chance to rule at The Savior’s side. Instantly his world is plagued with violence, treachery, and manipulation, revealing the hidden ugliness of his proud realm. And when his circumstances seem especially dire, he stumbles into an unexpected romance, one that opens him up to unimaginable dangers and darkness.

Trigger warning: this novel contains graphic violence, adult language, and sexual situations.

 

REVIEW: Highly recommended to adults who love action, twists, and steamy romance | ★★★★☆

I would highly recommend this book to adults who love action, twists, and steamy romance. It’s a thrilling roller-coaster ride full of intriguing characters, including a baddie you’d love to hate (Kaleo fan over here). Speaking of love and hate, I had a love-and-hate relationship with the main character Tobias almost the whole time, but still rooted for him all the way. (If only he’d be less whiny.) He is definitely a complex character, but his counterpart Leila is even more so. Leila is a capable but troubled heroine that I enjoyed reading every time she’s on the page. She is that character where the more you know about her, the more questions you end up having! The circumstances of Leila and Tobias’ coupledom plays on your emotions on top of the ride your emotions are getting from the twists and turns you encounter in the story. The fantasy elements are minimal but well-utilized, though I still wished there was more world-building. The amount of profanity can also be a bit distracting sometimes. Overall, I definitely enjoyed reading and rereading this book, and I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel.

Review originally posted on Amazon.

My 7 Thoughts on The Crimes of Grindelwald

mv5bzjfimguzmtatndawmc00zjrhltk0otutmmjimzm5zmvjodqxxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymdm2ndm2mq-_v1_Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was a breathtaking ride for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Here are 7 things I want to talk about without giving away too much:

1 | Visuals

The visual effects were top-notch and exceeded my expectations. But it’s not just the effects themselves, the cinematography was great as well. This is definitely a movie meant to be seen in the big screen.

2 | Beasts

The smaller beasts were cute, but my top 3 were the big ones. I have a special place in my heart for Thestrals, which we’ve seen from the Harry Potter movies. I’m happy every time I see them. And sad at the same time. Of course, I also loved the Zouwu, the Chinese creature. It had adorable eyes and the way it moved with its flowy vibrant tail was so mesmerizing. My favorite, was the Kelpie, which was just utterly majestic. It didn’t have much of a role in the movie, though. There is another creature that I was surprised and happy to see, which made me anxious and nostalgic. But this is all I will say about it.

3 | Grindeldore

Both Grindelwald and Dumbledore were excellently portrayed here by Johnny Depp and Jude Law. I felt that these two actors captured the magnetic charisma of their characters and it makes me excited for seeing more of them in the future.

4 | Newt & Tina

Newt Scamander is a sweet quirky fella for sure, but I’m not that huge of a fan. Jacob, Queenie, Leta, and his own brother Theseus, seem much more interesting to me than Newt himself. Unfortunately, it’s the same for Tina Goldstein. I do like, though, the juxtaposition of Newt’s eccentric personality to Tina’s composed and purposeful attitude.

5 | Flashbacks

The flashback I expected to see did not turn up, which was slightly disappointing. But the ones I did get to see were thought-provoking and had a haunting quality to it, which made me feel for a character I did not expect to care for.

6 | Credence & Nagini

We have already seen Nagini turn into a huge snake from the trailers (not Basilisk-level, but still huge for a snake) and I prefer not to say anything about Credence. But let me tell you, I definitely want to see more and know more about these two.

7 | Not Enough

As I tweeted, I wish we get an actual novel of this movie, as well as the previous one, so we get more into this world, these characters, these events. This is a story that takes place in the adult world, with a character who is not a star athlete (Newt doesn’t seem the type to play Quidditch), not the “Chosen One”, and not even a sociable one either. We’ve had the wonderful coming-of-age story of a hero school boy. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have one about a struggling creature-loving dorky adult in the midst of a brewing war?

OVERALL | ★★★★☆

Disclaimer: This rating is based on my overall enjoyment of the material, whether it was time well-spent, whether it was worth the money, whether I would be likely to repeat it. It is not a measurement based on structure, technique, flaws and perfections. FYI.