Archives for July 2014

Thoughtful Thursday – End of Series – July 31, 2014

ThoughtfulThursday

Reading Is Fun Again created Thoughtful Thursday. Each week, she posts a new bookish thought that she discusses.

Everyone is welcome to join. 

 

July 31: Have you avoided reading a final book in a series or chapter or “forgot” what happened in a final book or chapter because the ending displeased you?

 

I’ve given up on series that turned in directions I wasn’t happy with, but I don’t think my type-A personality could handle putting a book down with only one chapter left.  If I’m going to stop reading something it’s likely I’ll make that decision far closer to the front of the book than the end of it.  I DO, however, have an awful memory, so I forget the endings of books all the time.  It’s one of the things that makes re-reading fun!

 

Be sure to check out the other posts on this topic at Reading Is Fun Again.

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Review: Zero Alternative by Luca Pesaro (Belinda’s review)

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00017]Zero Alternative 
written by Luca Pesaro
published by Three Hares Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I was really excited in the beginning. Pesaro has a strong hook and a fast-paced, interesting story.

Then I got to about 30% where the fast-paced action screeches to a halt for a strip joint scene that goes on for about ten pages.

“Her breast were larger than you would expect from her slim frame, with wide aureoles,” (yes, he used the word aureoles. I’d never heard the word outside of breastfeeding class) “nipples pointing upwards in the lightly chilled air.” 

I was still hanging in there at this point – but feeling a little creeped out. The woman continued to remove all her clothes and dance. After she ends the dance, our main character tells the manager of the strip joint, “I’d like to book a private dance with Felena.”

The manager informs him, “She’s at top rate . . . and there’s a few in front of you.”

I grabbed a bucket. The one that I put next to the children’s bed when they’re home sick with the stomach flu, and soldiered on.

Main character: “I’ll give her five hundred quid for half an hour. And two hundred for you, but I’m not waiting.”

He pays for the the woman. She dances for him, performs oral sex on him, throws him down and screws his brains out, then drugs him and steals his money. Am I the only one confused here? Why not just drug him and take the money? Why the ten pages of graphic sex first? Gratuitous perhaps? Let’s read on.

Then she saves his life. (I know you’re confused now, too.)

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He does (kind of) fall in love with the overly large breasts with the slim frame and wide aureoles. They reunite later in the story:

“Walker could see the fear in her eyes but he kept his voice cold. ‘No. I still need your help, if you’re ready. And I think you are now.’

‘How do you know, when I can’t even be sure of myself?’

She was shaking and he stopped himself from taking her hand. ‘Everyone deserves a second chance. This is yours – don’t f— it up.’”

It’s really hard not to hate this guy. He takes being a jerk to levels I didn’t know existed.

Basically, we have a good story that’s ruined by an arrogant, sexist, and really creepy protagonist.

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Would I recommend it: I’m sure there’s an audience out there somewhere for this book, and frankly, that scares me.  I won’t read it again.

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About the book – from Goodreads:

Framed.
Hunted. 
Betrayed.

Scott Walker is a fugitive from the quicksands of Finance, with one card to play – DeepShare, a silicon oracle coveted by billionaires, hitmen and hackers. As he fights for survival and vengeance, digging deeper into the dark heart of the global economy, one question torments him: what price will the world have to pay?

ZERO ALTERNATIVE is an action-packed conspiracy thriller that plucks at the heart of human nature. When our grip on love, hope and morality starts to slide, the only future worth living is the one we choose for ourselves.

 

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Review: Matt Archer: Redemption by Kendra C. Highley (Chrissy’s review)

matt archer redemptionMatt Archer: Redemption (Matt Archer #5)
written by Kendra C. Highley
published by Kendra C. Highley

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: How do I say this without fangirling too much? I absolutely LOVED this book. Wow. Good. Great. Fantastic. Exciting. Sad. Satisfying. I’m feeling that excited/shaky/giddy rush from finishing a great series.

How’s that? I know. I fangirled. I’m not sorry. Not even a little bit.

Seriously, this was a great end to a great series. I was expecting a slower start, but Ms. Highley jumped right in and got the party started. I was hooked from the first page until the very end. I didn’t want to put it down, but I didn’t want it to end. You know what I mean. This is the last book of the Matt Archer series. I couldn’t wait to see how it ended, but I didn’t want to say good-bye.

Redemption lived up to my high expectations. I wanted it to be great, and it did not disappoint. (I know I keep gushing about this book, but it was just so good.) There was a lot of action. I really enjoyed reading the battle scenes. Ms. Highley does a great job describing the action without overdoing it. I felt like I was watching the battles. I could see the moves, the monsters, the kills, everything. There were a few monster hunts that were not described. We only found out the outcome. I would have loved to have read about the gargoyles. I’ll bet that was a great fight.

The characters grew over the course of the series. It’s hard for me to believe that this Matt is the same Matt I met during Monster Hunter. His character grew from a scared boy to a man who carried the fate of the world on his shoulders. He was a leader, a fighter, a good man. I adore Will. I was so glad that he became a wielder. I wish we would have had a few more battle scenes with him. And a few more hunts where he and Matt worked together. Axe anyone? The other wielders did their job amazingly. One wielder surprised me, but in a very good way. Let’s just say that that wielder lived up to a nickname that wielder earned early on in the series. I loved it! Brent changed a lot, but I think he struggled with everything and his role. Mamie. Oh Mamie. Mamie. I can’t say much more. Read the book; you’ll understand.

This is a fantastic series. I loved every book. And it is definitely a series I will reread in the near future. In fact, I am going to purchase the series in paperback so I have it on my bookshelves. And I know that in my reviews of the first few books I said I would not reread it, but I was wrong. After finishing this series, I am certain that I will reread it many times.

Thank you, Ms. Highley, for writing one of my all-time favorite series–I’m talking up there just behind Harry Potter. That’s how much I have enjoyed reading the Matt Archer series. And I’m kind of hoping that Ms. Highley will release a book of “extras” from the stories she wrote on her Monsters and Mayhem blog. That would be awesome. Just saying.

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Would I recommend it: Absolutely!!! Here are links to my reviews of the other books in the series: Matt Archer: Monster Hunter (Matt Archer #1)Matt Archer: Monster Summer (Matt Archer #1.5), Matt Archer: Blade’s Edge (Matt Archer #2), Matt Archer: Legend (Matt Archer #3)and Matt Archer: Bloodlines (Matt Archer #4).

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About the book: There’s more to me than you know…”

When Matt Archer’s sister, Mamie, said those words to him three years ago, he had no idea how prophetic they were, or what this would mean for his family.

Now, he knows. And it changes everything, bringing the war right to Matt’s doorstep.

In the epic conclusion to the Matt Archer series, the endgame is near. Betrayed by an enemy, the wielders have been called off the hunt by their own government, despite increasing reports of paranormal activity—and deaths—worldwide. Matt is forced to sit on the sidelines, knowing that proving monsters exist means revealing who—and what—he is. Soon the world will know his name…which will only make his job harder.

Matt’s only hope resides with a man he barely knows—his father. If Erik Archer can put together the final puzzle before the monsters do, maybe they’ll have a chance. Maybe.

Mystery, tragedy and the power of family combine as Matt races to win the war and save the people he loves. There’s just one thing he’s afraid of…

It might already be too late.

 

 

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Review: Behind the Gem by Ken Hart (Melissa’s review)

behind the gemBehind the Gem
written by Ken Hart
published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing Company

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Smashwords, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Let me start with the good bits:  the writing wasn’t terrible. Ok. Moving on.

The story is interesting – I like aliens – but the details were just too weird for me. I suppose my first clue should have been the cover photo – a man holding hands with what I can only describe as a kangarooey, horsey type thing. Yeah. So the alien planet is populated with these horsey, kangarooish beings who just happen to recruit the main character to marry their leader and be a surrogate parent for her eggs. Ok, cool. I’m all for gender equality (I’d seriously love to watch my husband enjoy the many blessings of pregnancy), but I just couldn’t get past the conflicting visuals. Amber and Ray are supposedly a couple in love, but she continually carries him around and makes him sit on her lap. It’s not a sexytime lap sitting, either, but more of a . . . ‘come here, little pet, let me snuggle you’ deal. I couldn’t reconcile the motherly act of placing someone on your lap with the idea of an adult relationship, regardless of race. Oh, and then there was the bit where Ray did something bad and got temporarily fired from being Amber’s Surrogate and, because that apparently freed him up to, um, service any female in the colony, found himself in bed with his MOTHER-IN-LAW. Don’t worry, though. Everyone was cool with it (except me, I guess).

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Would I recommend it: Not so much, no. I mean, unless you’re into weird.

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
“Ripped from heart and home by galactic farmers, Ray and his co-workers are taken hundreds of light years across the galaxy and left to fend for themselves. When he begins hearing a voice in his head and is unjustly blamed for the deaths of his friends, he is separated from them by a mysterious silver pod and is led to a peaceful race of aliens called the Draasen. He experiences a new way of life with responsibilities and challenges that he never could have imagined. He is accepted into their society, but at a high cost to his dignity when he is led into protecting and birthing their eggs. When the galactic farmers arrive to take the Draasen population as fodder, the Draasen’s fate becomes entwined with that of the nearly extinct human race, and their struggle to survive.

 

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Boost It Tuesday!

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Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free Chance, Candace’s Book Blog, and Gin’s Book Notes for Boost It Tuesday.

 

What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away. Please be aware that any non-Facebook links will be deleted.

 

As an added bonus, Candace, Ginny, and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!

 

For this week’s giveaway, head over to the Every Free Chance Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!

 

Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!

Gin's Book Notes
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Review: The Case of the Killer Divorce by Barbara Venkataraman (Belinda’s review)

the case of the killer divorceThe Case of the Killer Divorce (A Jamie Quinn Mystery #2)
written by Barbara Venkataraman
published by Barbara Venkataraman

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
If you’re looking for the perfect book to read while relaxing by the pool sipping some fruity drink with an umbrella peeking over the side, this is it.

Clever and comical, The Case of the Killer Divorce has romance, murder, mental breakdowns, and even a search for the main character’s long lost father. Many of the same lovable characters that solved crimes in Death by Didgeridoo are back. They work together to discover how a man in a contentious divorce ends up unexpectedly dead.

I have to go with 4½ stars out of 5 because I don’t like the ending. For me, it’s too abrupt.

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Would I recommend it: Yes. It’s quick, fun, and unpredictable.

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About the book – from Goodreads: Reluctant lawyer, Jamie Quinn, has returned to her family law practice after a hiatus due to the death of her mother. It’s business as usual until a bitter divorce case turns into a murder investigation, and Jamie’s client becomes the prime suspect. When she can’t untangle truth from lies, Jamie enlists the help of Duke Broussard, her favorite private investigator, to try to clear her client’s name. And she’s hoping that, in his spare time, he can help her find her long-lost father…

 

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Blog Tour: Wild Iris Ridge by RaeAnne Thayne (spotlight, interview, giveaway)

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Wild Iris Ridge CoverWild Iris Ridge
written by RaeAnne Thayne
published by Harlequin HQN

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book: A big-city, high-powered advertising executive and a small-town firefighter learn that no matter where you started or what you’ve lost, if you open your heart, you can find joy and love again. WILD IRIS RIDGE is the latest book in USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s charming Hope’s Crossing series.

Lucy Drake and Brendan Caine have only one thing in common.And it’s likely to tear them apart. Because it was Brendan’s late wife, Jessie—and Lucy’s best friend—who’d brought them together in the first place. And since Jesse’s passing, Brendan’s been distracted by his two little ones…and the memory of an explosive kiss with Lucy years before his marriage. Still, he’ll steer clear of her. She’s always been trouble with a capital T.

Lucy couldn’t wait to shed her small-town roots for the big city. But now that she’s back in Hope’s Crossing to take care of the Queen Anne home her late aunt has left her, she figures seeing Brendan Caine again is no big deal. After all, she’d managed to resist the handsome fire chief once before, but clearly the embers of their attraction are still smoldering…

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Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Wild Iris Ridge is a heartwarming story about community and family and two lost souls finding each other after being separated by their choices and circumstances.
Why did you decide to write Wild Iris RidgeI almost finished the Hope’s Crossing series with Christmas in Snowflake Canyon, my December 2013 book, but I had many loose ends I hadn’t yet tied off so persuaded my publisher to let me write one more book. Brendan Caine, the hero of Wild Iris Ridge,was a character I felt great sympathy for when I introduced him in previous books and I couldn’t wait to give him a happy ending.
What was your favorite part about being a reporter with your local newspaper? I loved interviewing sources. I discovered everyone has a story, if you only take a moment to ask them about it
With 40 books under your belt, do you have any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? I always have new ideas spinning around. Right now I’m working on the second book in my new series, Haven Point. The first book, SNOW ANGEL COVE, comes out in November. The book I’m working on (tentatively called REDEMPTION BAY) will be a July 2015 release and I’m having so much fun coming up with the story and characters. I love this “discovery” part of the writing process, when all the possibilities are open to me.
Why do you enjoy reading and writing? It’s part of me, part of who I am. I’ve always been an avid reader, from the time I was a young girl reading everything from cereal boxes to our family’s encyclopedia collection. Writing was a natural offshoot of that. The ability to be a storyteller for a living feels like an amazing gift, one I never take for granted.
What is your favorite genre to read? I read a wide variety of genres. My favorite has always been romance novels. I love Regency historicals, in particular.
Who is your favorite author? Oooh. Too many to put it down to only one. I’m discovering new authors all the time. I would say my top five right now are Mary Balogh, Kristan Higgins, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jane Austen, and J.K. Rowling. How’s that for an eclectic mix?!
In your opinion, what is one book that everyone should read? I can’t pick just one (other than Scriptures. Is that a cop-out?!). I just wish everyone found as much joy through books as I do.
What did you want to be when you grew up? So many things. At one point, I wanted to be an actress on Broadway. I also wanted to be a teacher or an attorney. After I took a journalism class in high school, I realized how much I loved telling stories, which pushed away all my other dreams.
What did you end up being? I have dual undergraduate degrees, one in journalism and one in liberal studies. I spent ten years as a newspaper reporter and editor, writing romance novels on the side for about five of those. The week we had our second child I sold my fifth book and quit the newspaper business to be a full-time mom and writer. Both of them were the best possible job choices for me.
Tell us three things about yourself that cannot be found on the internet … at least not found easily.
  1. I love to travel and was once caught in a flash flood in Marrakech.
  2. I am not a great cook but do have a fabulous recipe for Sunday roast.
  3. I am happiest when I am surrounded by my family.

 

Best-selling author RaeAnne ThayneAbout the author: USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. This led her to a fifteen-year career in journalismas a newspaper reporter and editor. But through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best, romance, and has since published more than 40 titles. RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website, RaeAnneThayne.com.

Find Ms. Thayne here: web, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

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Review: Hawke’s Point by Mark Willen (Belinda’s review)

hawke's pointHawke’s Point
written by Mark Willen
published by Penn-L Publishing

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonGoodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Not too much.

Mr. Willen had a great story idea. This book was bursting with possibilities, but I couldn’t enjoy it for two reasons.

First, writing style. The story read more like a newspaper article than a passionate work of fiction. The narrator spent most of his time telling us the story rather than allowing the reader to experience it. I didn’t feel like I was in the scene. I couldn’t hear the character’s voices in my head. I felt like an observer, and for me that was boring.

The second turnoff for me was a subjective one. Mary Louise was a prostitute – not like the ones on the street corners getting beaten up by pimps and raped by clients – more like a Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman type of prostitute. Here’s an excerpt from the book:

“Jonas, being an attorney and all, generally believed in enforcing the law, but he was never bothered by Mary Louise. He knew prostitution often came with some bad side effects, but he felt the higher-end work that Mary Louise engaged in probably did more good than harm, if you could tote up different sides of a ledger that way . . . If anything, he felt sorry for the guys who didn’t have the money to spare for an hour’s pleasure.”

I would love for Mr. Willen to volunteer at a rescue center for prostitutes. Repeated beatings, sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted children, and drug abuse are just a few of the “bad side effects” of prostitution. To suggest that Mary Louise is performing a valuable public service is abhorrent and offensive.

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Would I recommend it: No.

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About the book – from Goodreads: Jonas Hawke may be past his prime, a recovering alcoholic with bouts of crankiness and sheer orneriness, but he’s still a damned good lawyer. That’s why everyone in Beacon Junction turns to him for advice as soon as something goes wrong. And plenty does—murder, adultery, corporate conspiracy—everything you’d expect from a small, sleepy Vermont town.

When a mysterious stranger shows up to question Jonas’s handling of a 20-year-old murder trial, Jonas is forced to confront an ethical lapse in his past. And when evidence surfaces that a heart stent made by a local company may be doing more harm than good, he is drawn into an ethical quagmire that will determine how he’ll be remembered.

 

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Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth (Melissa’s review)

allegiantAllegiant (Divergent #3)
written by Veronica Roth
published by Katherine Tegen Books

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: The Internet told me I was going to slowly turn on this series. The Internet told me that by the end of book three I would be not only disappointed but disgusted as well. Some of the Internet even suggested I would be so disheartened I’d stop reading before the last page. The Internet was WRONG.

It took me a while to get used to the dual perspective narration–I found myself flipping back to the beginning of a few chapters to remind myself who was telling the story. But. This was BY FAR the best book in the series. I loved it. I spent the last several chapters sniffling uncontrollably (OK, I was crying, but don’t tell anyone).

I should clarify. I’m not in love with the way the series ended. I’m not thrilled about who lived and who died (but I won’t spoil it for you). I still don’t think there’s any ground-breaking writing going on here, and I’m actually harboring some seriously cranky-pants thoughts about Roth.

But friends, a great book moves you – it triggers emotions, and not always happy frou-frou ones – and that’s exactly what happened.

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Would I recommend it: Yes. I’d also suggest, as a general rule, that the Internet is mostly wrong (except this post. This post is absolutely true).

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

 

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DNF: The Curse of the Thrax by Mark Murphy (Melissa’s review)

the curse of the thraxThe Curse of the Thrax (Bloodsword Trilogy #1)
written by Mark Murphy
published by Mark Murphy

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Where I stopped reading: . . . about halfway through . . .

Why I stopped reading: So I’m stuck in a hotel room with my two-year-old for the next few days, which means he’s watching a lot of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood while I binge read.  It also means I’ve got very little patience for, well, anything.  So, about halfway through the book (when my patience and the size of our hotel room seemed to be shrinking by the minute) I realized that although I LOVE the concept (it’s a post-apocalyptic old-world-is-new-again type of thing), I didn’t really care for (or have time for) the plethora of dalliances Jaykriss & Marda stop for —  archery contests, fishing trips, jaunts into caves and the like.  I tried skipping ahead a few chapters to, um, “get to the good part,”  as it were, but it didn’t help.  I mostly blame my tiny hotel room (and the tiny person who is currently hiding in the closet soiling his pants) – I’d probably have been much more likely to finish the book if I had, you know, a few hundred more square feet.  Sorry, Mark Murphy.  It turns out external forces actually DO influence a person’s reading of a novel.  =(

 

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What others have rated this book: According to Goodreads, the average rating for The Curse of the Thrax is 4.73 stars. It looks like a majority of readers gave this book 5 stars. There was 1 4-star review on Amazon. At Barnes & Noble, there was one 3-star review. Just because I didn’t finish this book doesn’t mean you won’t.

About the book – from Goodreads: Jaykriss is a typical teenager. He’s bored with school, the girl he loves doesn’t even know he’s alive, and he and his mother disagree—a lot.

Not everything is typical in Jaykriss’s life, however. Glyndich the Great, Jaykriss’s warrior father, died fighting a dragon—and in doing so lost the Bloodsword, a treasured heirloom that is the family’s symbol of power. 

Jaykriss lives in the Godswood,a tiny village deep in the forest near the ancient Priestbain, the fortress home of the Godswood priests. The priests rule the Godswood through their close relationship with the all-powerful Dark King. Jaykriss and the rest of the villagers just barely get by, surviving day-to-day despite nefarious plots by the priests, constant threats by groups of half-human mutants—and, of late, by the Thrax itself, an enormous dragon once thought to be extinct. 

But one day, all of that changes. 

On a routine hunting trip, Jaykriss and his best friend are chased by the Thrax. Terrified, they seek refuge in a forest cave hidden behind a waterfall. The cave shelters an eccentric hermit, a refugee from the Dark King, whose home is filled with books and devices from ancient times. The hermit teaches Jaykriss that all is not as it seems in his world. The mutants and dragons are actually relics of a biological disaster that ravaged the planet years before. The Dark King, revered as a god, is a vicious ruler who will do anything to stay in power. Jaykriss realizes that although he is not a warrior like his father, he can use his instincts and intellect to confront the Thrax, recover the Bloodsword and save his family. He may, in fact, be The One who Leads, prophesied to save the entire human race. But is Jaykriss ready for his destiny–or will it consume him?

 

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