Sapphyria's Book Reviews

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  • In Leah's Wake on Aug. 19, 2011

    Wow! This novel is exemplary. The writing style keeps you engrossed and the characters and their lives keep you captivated. I know this is a work of fiction, but wow, it parallels the real lives of parents, children, and lives in general. It is very easy to identify with various characters and their personality traits or lack thereof. There is the absent father that travels for work, pushing his teenage daughter to play sports. Then the self-help mom who has a hard time instituting things she teaches into her own life. Of course, there is Leah....the teenager that is at the age of rebellion and boy does she do a good job at it. And there is the younger sister wondering why her sister doesn’t like her. Add in a loser boyfriend and friends from the wrong crowd and you have the makings of a wonderfully orchestrated view of what is probably a very typical American family, to some degree, regardless of the social class. This book shows the perspectives of each character brilliantly. Here! Here! For a job well done.
  • BeSwitched on March 21, 2012

    Magical things happen when a cat who's been around for centuries flees her witchy owner and crosses the path of a shy, unpopular 16-year old girl. Surla, the cat, and Cathy, the teenager, pull a Freaky Friday and become one another. Both Surla and Cathy rack their brains trying to figure out how to change back, as each tries to adapt to their new bodies. For Cathy, becoming a cat is sort of a godsend, since she no longer has to go to school and contend with the snobs in the popular crowd or watch the guy of her dreams hanging around with them. For Surla, being human is a much bigger challenge. She must avoid Idis, who wants her cat back, learn how to be Cathy, and deal with situations that, while Cathy was experienced, Surla clearly was not; ie. mingling with humans as a human as opposed to the cat she usually is, navigating through school, dealing with homework, and, of course, Cathy's mom. "Beswitched" is a very good Middle Grade/High School novel. It deals with many issues that teenagers face at some point; shyness, unpopularity, popularity, teasing, bullying, etc. It's also a heartwarming novel that unites 2 unlikely companions (Surla, a witch's familiar, and Cathy, a mundane human, unaware of the true existence of witches) and follows them as they become each other and deal with everyday life while trying to stay one step ahead of a pretty nasty witch in the neighborhood. I found the plot to be entertaining even though it's clearly for the young adult audience. Cathy and Surla are likeable and believable as human turned cat and cat turned human. The pair of them get into some pretty silly situations and, at the hands of the popular crowd, the now human Surla, finds herself in one situation in particular that is quite serious. I also have Book 2, "Beswitched Witch" and can't wait to review that here. I rated this 4 stars based on the fact that this is for YA and it is a great story for its intended target group of readers. Adults may not like it -- no sex, drama, or violence -- but I'm in my 30's and found it to be very cute. (Review copy provided at by author in exchange for an honest review)
  • The Zombie Story The Chronicles of Orlando on March 29, 2012

    *** 3 1/2 Stars *** This novella is based on earth; an earth were everyone has the potential to possess magick. At some point, each person is tested to see their level and we start this novella knowing that Orlando has yet to undergo said testing. When Orlando is forced to move from Oklahoma to Los Angeles with his family, he has no problem exuding his irritation. Then, not 24 hours after moving into their new house, Orlando sees a man get shot out in the middle of the road in front of his house. No one sees it, no one hears it, and there is no body or proof that the event occurred and his mom automatically accuses him of making trouble since she knows he didn't want to move there in the first place. Then, at the hands of his grandfather, Orlando is shoved into the world of zombie hunting. He is introduced to his grandfather's old friend, Maxwell, a zombie hunter. Orlando is introduced to another hunter, Ruben, who commences with the training of Orlando. Orlando later learns of treachery in Los Angeles at the hands of one of his newly found friends. Can Orlando end the zombie invasion, protect his family, and find the traitor in time? The concept of this novel is creative and different. The story line mostly flowed well and was easy to follow. Unlike my complaints with most novellas, this book didn't seem rushed. There wasn't a ton of information crammed into less than 100 pages of dialogue. There were twists and turns and questions about who the good and bad guys really were which kept the pages turning. I did have a problem with some of the dialogue being choppy, uneven, and sometimes even forced sounding. Some of the conversations just didn't carry on smoothly and seemed uncomfortable. I recommend this to young adults who probably wouldn't have a problem with the dialogue. I will continue to read the series because I really like the storyline! (Book provided at no cost in exchange for an honest review)
  • Dead Relatives - The Chronicles of Orlando on March 30, 2012

    "Dead Relatives" is the 2nd installment of the Orlando Chronicles. Book 2 picks up where Book 1 left off. Orlando and the gang are in Mexico, working on a plan to come back across the border into the United States. Zombies are still on the loose and the gang must try to locate the "fifth" and investigate someone or something called the "Lexicon." This installment brings with it a lot of action and perilous conditions. Orlando now has the ability to see and hear ghosts, which becomes advantageous on several occasions. Dead Relatives has stepped up the series a notch in adventure, badness, and action. The zombies are much stronger (think a bull as a zombie and you'll hit the nail on the head), Orlando realizes that the evil guys are actually more evil than they first though, revelations about what really happened in Warehouse One come to light, and discoveries about Orlando's parents shed light on their sudden move to L.A. This is another fine example of a novella that takes it's time (even though it's a short book) and develops all of the characters and scenes. The author does all of this without leaving me feeling like there was too much information, not enough development or explanation of scenes, or important plot lines skipped. The dialogue isn't quite as uncomfortable as I thought the first novella was and I enjoyed reading "Dead Relatives" without that distraction. Young Adults and those in love with zombies will definitely want to put "The Zombie Story" and "Dead Relatives" on their To Be Read list! (Book provided at no cost in exchange for an honest review).
  • Bonds of Fenris on July 29, 2012

    When Talia was bitten by a large dog, she felt she was lucky to be alive. Little did she know that the large dog was, in fact, a wolf....But not just any wolf....A werewolf. She began to change one month later, and to help preserve her family, she leaves her home and everything in her life behind. Fast-forward 1 year and Talia is struggling. Struggling with the 4 packmates she's crammed in a tiny house with; struggling with the unruly wolf within; and struggling with humanity in the world that surrounds her, Talia doesn't know how much longer she can live this way. Then the night of the full moon, Talia and 2 packmates come across another werewolf, one that is able to shift from wolf to human skin without effort--something the packmates are unable to do on the night of a full moon. Denying that there's anything wrong with the pack, everyone but Talia wants to observe the new wolf and not become involved with him. After a tragedy unfolds within the pack, Talia runs-abandoning Pierce, Bo, Marlene, and Leroy, when they needed her most-and ends up right in the arms of Corwin. Begging Corwin to show her the way to living a normal life, Talia finds out his methods are not glamorous and sometimes downright inhumane and cruel. But do they work and will Talia finally find a way to start living her life again, the way she was prior to her attack a year ago? "Bonds of Fenris" is a fantastic psychological trip into the mind of a human and its inner wolf. This novel takes the concept of lycanthropy and gives the whole idea of werewolves a new meaning. It's more about accepting the "skin you're in" whether it's covered with human skin or werewolf fur. This, of course, isn't easy since none of the characters in the book are wolves by choice - they became werewolves by force. Each one harbors resentment and hatred of the beast caged within. We get an up-close and intimate look at the ways each person in Talia's pack finally deal with and attempt to tame the carnivore that itches to break free. It isn't sweet and romantic or nice and easy.....It's treacherous and emotional - and will definitely make you, the reader, anxious and in some cases angry. You will feel relief, sadness, and pain. The author does an excellent job radiating the temperaments, emotions, and experiences of each character off of the pages of "Bonds of Fenris" and into you. We see how important it is that each character not only be accepting of others but also learn to accept themselves--in whatever form they happen to be in. Ms. Bell is very descriptive throughout the entire novel but it's not overly wordy or redundant. Talia is a strong character. She tries her best to live among humans, going so far as to take college classes and hold down a part time job. She has her weak moments but they are crucial to the plot and the progression of the storyline. Bo, Leroy, Pierce, and Maureen are extremely confused secondary characters. They struggle everyday with the wolves they harbor. What we learn about them as we read defines each one and illuminates their struggles. Corwin is an enigma...A hot enigma, but an enigma. We aren't certain where he comes from as he just appears in the same forest at the same time the pack does one full moon night. He indicates that he's special but doesn't reveal how at first. This happens after he takes Talia under his wing and leads her through all of tests to help her live in harmony with her wolf. There is touch of romance within the pages of this novel but it isn't over-powering nor does it detract from the theme. I enjoyed this different aspect of the werewolf! *Book provided at no cost by the author in exchange for an honest review*