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This blog is managed by us two sisters, known to some as Ants and Epic. We're a pair of up-and-coming authors and avid readers. This blog is mainly full of honest, Christian book-reviews and an occasional update about our writing. We love hearing from you all so feel free to drop a comment anywhere to just say hi!
Also, got any book suggestions? Something you'd like to see reviewed? Leave the title in the comments and we'll try to get to it!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Manga Series Review: Pandora Hearts

Image result for Pandora Hearts Vol 1Image result for Pandora Hearts Vol 8  Image result for Pandora Hearts Vol 11  Image result for Pandora Hearts vol 13 Image result for Pandora Hearts Vol 22

Summary: PANDORA HEARTS shows us a world filled with fate, friendship, surreal and struggle. PANDORA HEARTS begins with the 15-year-old Oz Vessalius as he undergoes a coming-of-age ceremony as the heir to a prestigious family. One day, however, he's attacked by a group of mysterious people in red cloaks, and they tell him that his very existence is a sin and for that he must be cast into the prison of the Abyss.

Thoughts: Maybe this ought to be titled explanation. At any rate, the summary is in fact only for the very beginning of this dark Alice-in-Wonderland-like series. First off though, for those of you unfamiliar with the term 'manga' it is a form of Japanese comic book. So yes, it's a story told with dialogue and pictures, each so close together it's almost like watching a movie in slow motion. Now, to be honest, I've only read from Vol. 8 and onwards. My reason is that I've seen the show that covers up until then and is nearly word for word and can easily compare it's key frames to the manga panels and I wasn't overly interested in the extras at the time (though I might go back for them now).
 Now, onto the review! I dearly love this series. The artwork is amazing and so wonderfully detailed and the story is intriguing and confusing (like any manga/anime), but what is most amazing is the characters. Their depth, growth, thoughts, actions, past, dreams, are unbelievably riveting and tear jerking. But this is a story from Japan and I've found that most Japanese manga authors have some sort of grudge against feel-good or happy endings for most if not all of their characters. So when I wasn't laughing hysterically or sitting on the edge of my seat in suspense, I was crying and screaming "NO!" as someone was brutally killed off. And the ending was definitely less than hoped for but what most people started to expect (and fear)!Despite this I really loved this series that has ended recently at 22 volumes and left me heart broken!

Content:While being fairly clean for a manga, there are always things as manga is rarely intended for children in Japan. First off there's language, D*** and B****** are the most common and probably the worst (though they're thankfully not used too often!). Next we have a few rather skimpily clothed girls in weird outfits on occasion and then there's the whole ordeal with Lacie. SPOILER--- It is implied that Alice and her twin are the illegitimate children of Glen Baskerville (Levi at the time) and Lacie---END SPOILER. Also one character appears to have a creepy brother complex at first but this is shown to be simply extreme protectiveness at a later point. Same character was also obsessed (he has mental issues...but most of the cast does) with 'defiling' a certain girl but this never amounted to much as she proceeded to freak him out ten seconds later. And there is a lot of violence...and blood...and death....a lot. There are a few strange religious themes such as the main character's existence being called a 'sin' and villains carrying around the occasional cross; but it's small, has little to do with the story, and is easy to ignore.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Book Series Review: Castle Glower

Summaries: Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one, other than Celie that is, takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.

 We like gifts, we like holidays, and we like you. So it only makes sense that we gift you with a sparkly holiday treat, featuring the cleverest castle you will ever meet. Jessica Day George's very magical, very exclusive HOLIDAYS AT THE CASTLE: A TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE SHORT STORY, is available FREE HERE.

Wednesdays in the Tower. A castle that is constantly rearranging itself, and a young royal family sworn to protect it... Celie, Rolf, and their beloved Castle Glower are back in this exciting sequel. 
 Strange things are a foot in Castle Glower: new rooms, corridors, and even stables keep arriving, even when they aren't needed. Celie's brother Bran, the new Royal Wizard, has his hands full cataloging an entire storeroom full of exotic and highly dangerous weapons, while Celie has her hands full . . . raising the creature that hatches from a giant egg she finds! Will they be able to find out what's making the Castle behave this way in time?

 Thursdays with the Crown. Castle Glower has been acting weird, so it’s no surprise when two towers transport Celie and her siblings to an unknown land. When they realize that no one from home is coming to get them, the kids – along with Celie’s pet griffin Rufus – set out through the forest to figure out where they are and what’s happened to their beloved Castle. Instead, they discover two wizards and an entire lost people, the oldest inhabitants of Castle Glower. And it seems they may know more of the Castle’s secrets than Celie. But do they know how to get her back home? 
 This bestselling series continues with the story of the origin of Castle Glower. Readers who’ve been enchanted by the Castle’s moving walls will be delighted by the Castle’s rich and magical history.

Thoughts: This is one of the most adorable series of books I've read in awhile! With lots of fun adventure, miniscule romance, and a group of fun siblings, not to mention an amazing Castle; the Castle Glower tales are really something else! Celie is a cute, spunky little princess who leads us through plenty of escapades through her very special Castle. Her older siblings (youngest to oldest) Rolf, Lilah, and Bran are usually present or at least helpful (mostly the first two) though Rolf is a favorite! There are plenty of interesting side characters, world building, history (both boring and fun) and folktales as well. From traveling through moving corridors, flying on griffins, to randomly appearing in a new world; you never know what to expect next! While written for a younger audience, readers of all ages should be able to enjoy this cute, quirky series! The series is, thankfully, still ongoing and we're waiting eagerly for Fridays with the Wizards:
Celie and her friends and family are back in the Castle, safe and sound. But there's still the problem of Wizard Arkwright. What do you do with an evil wizard? Especially when he escapes from his cell, but doesn't leave the Castle!
 Now it's up to Celie, with the help of her wizard brother Bran and her griffins, to track down Arkwright and get rid of him for good!
  (Bran wasn't a big favorite of mine but it sounds intriguing anyways!)

Content: Not much outside of flirting and a passing mention of two people kissing. there's hardly even any real violence though the ending of the first book might come as a bit of a surprise. Not going to spoil anything but it made me happy!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Book Review: The Clockwork Three

Summary: An enchanted green violin, an automaton that comes to life, and a hidden treasure . . . THE CLOCKWORK THREE is a richly woven adventure story that is sure to become a classic!
  Giuseppe is an orphaned street musician from Italy, who was sold by his uncle to work as a slave for an evil padrone in the U.S. But when a mysterious green violin enters his life he begins to imagine a life of freedom.
  Hannah is a soft-hearted, strong-willed girl from the tenements, who supports her family as a hotel maid when tragedy strikes and her father can no longer work. She learns about a hidden treasure, which she knows will save her family -- if she can find it.
  And Frederick, the talented and intense clockmaker's apprentice, seeks to learn the truth about his mother while trying to forget the nightmares of the orphanage where she left him. He is determined to build an automaton and enter the clockmakers' guild -- if only he can create a working head.
 Together, the three discover they have phenomenal power when they team up as friends, and that they can overcome even the darkest of fears.

Thoughts: Awhile back I read Kirby's book Icefall and really enjoyed it but kept hearing that his debut novel, The Clockwork Three, was supposedly even better, so I picked it up at the library and set about reading it. It's different from Icefall in writing style as here Kirby uses the third person form of writing as opposed to Icefall's first person. He also flips from three different characters almost per chapter, instead of sticking to just one. The way he moves from each character and slowly meshed them together was masterful and I was amazed. Each character was unique and lovable (especially Giuseppe!), and the story was a piece of art! I did find it hard to believe the children weren't any older than twelve or thirteen because they all acted so mature, but that didn't take away from the story. First off, I knew how it was going to end, from the summary most people will be able to figure out how it has to end. Books like this just have a set way of ending, but the journey to that end, how it was reached, was amazing! If you can simply accept that end won't be a surprise, you can really enjoy the way Kirby slowly brought everything together, tied up all the ends, and brought you to your destination in a breathtaking way! Feeling wonderfully reminiscent of The Thief Lord this book was a fantastic read and I really enjoyed it!

Content: There is mention of woman flirting at least. Other than a little magic, action, and abuse, this book is pretty clean. There is even a wonderful group of actually helpful and caring adults which is a rarity in books starring children!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Book Review: Rise of the Dibor

Summary: What if Adam and Eve never sinned? Would Satan be back?
   A perfect world untouched by evil and ignorant of death is secretly invaded by an ancient enemy that threatens to destroy their way of life forever. At first any signs of Morgui's vile presence are subtle, but slowly even Creation itself heralds the impending doom that awaits as the summers grow cold and certain of Dionia's inhabitants go missing.
   As more and more people are strangely taken, the Kings of Dionia decide take precautionary measures. Luik son of Lair is summoned to join an elite group of warriors known as the Dibor, sworn to protect their Kingdom against invading foes. But when a sinister plot to dethrone the Kings and flatten the capital city of Adriel is discovered, the Dibor are summoned along with the rest of the men of Dionia to defend her walls. It is here that Luik and his army face Morgui's Prince as well as the unending ranks of the demon war-host known as the Dairne-Reih, engaging in an epic saga to keep their world from following the same fate of one that has gone before it; earth.
   What some think will destroy them all, others believe will be the birth of a legend. Join a stunning cast of characters as they rally together in an inspiring story of courage, brotherhood, and sacrifice as Dionia becomes the epicenter for a war of historic proportions.
    With this first installment of The White Lion Chronicles, The Rise of The Dibor spans issues of friendship, love, loyalty and dives into some of the most essential questions of faith, including humanity’s struggle to resist temptation and mankind's ultimate need for a Deliverer.
   Will Adriel fall to the Dairne-Reih? Will Luik ever see find his family again? Will Morgui succeed in deceiving yet another world?
   Read the story that turned children into warriors, and warriors into heroes.

Thoughts: Well, I came in looking for an interesting cast of characters and didn't get it so I sort of dragged myself through the first two thirds of this book, but I'm glad I did.  While the characters may not have been the most fascinating, the story itself is so unique it pulls you in and begs you to understand. Hopper's descriptions of what pain might feel to someone who has never felt it, of the crushing of innocence and the blemishes of a perfect world, actually brought tears to my eyes. The cast as a whole struggles to defend and protect life as they know it and the last chapter was one of the most epic (and longest!) I have ever read. I fully intend to get my hands on the rest of this series at one point because the end of this book definitely calls for a sequel!

Content: This book is perfectly clean aside from the violence and I highly suggest making this a read aloud though some children may not be able to comprehend some of the main points due to the story being intended for an older audience.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Review: Theft of Swords

Summary: Royce Melborn is a superb thief, his partner, Hadrian Blackwater is a skilled mercenary. They make a profitable living as agents-for-hire to wealthy nobles until someone sets them up to take the blame for the murder of the king.

Thoughts: Where to begin...? This book was a great read, especially for the beginning of a series! It was easy to fly through, full of complicated and intriguing characters and, best of all, witty dialogue...more or less. The conversations that flew back and forth usually held my favorite type of humor but this book could be pretty serious too. While dark it had an overall light feel due to the comical back-and-forths between most of the characters. Filled with action, adventure, villains, heroes, princes, and princess...there are even evil organizations and a monster to be defeated! Sullivan sticks to the classic stereotypes of elves and kings and wizards which, while not creating an exactly new world, makes his all the more enjoyable as so many works are twisting or abolishing such elements in today's fiction. But don't let that lead you to believe this book is stereotypical or your familiar classic, no, this book stands on it's own for its unique story and cast. Over all a great read!

Content: Well, I'll admit I was pretty surprised when I found out Sullivan wrote this for his thirteen year old daughter. I definitely wouldn't hand this book to anyone under fifteen at least. A few of the minor characters are prostitutes(though this doesn't really lead anywhere in this book), while one character is introduced in someone else's bed. That is the most pronounced scene, but there are others, they just don't get that far. These are mercifully few and mostly disappear once you get past the beginning. There is also quite a bit of language. D*** is used often and, unfortunately so is W**** along with a few others that fall somewhere in between. Thankfully, they are not used often so it doesn't interfere with the majority of the story, but parents be aware I wouldn't hand this book to an immature reader!