Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Heartbreaker by V. Romas Burton (Book Review)

Two things prompted me to re-read Heartbreaker this month! The first is that I realized I never really adequately featured the book on bookish social media, the second is because I am SO SUPER LUCKY to have been chosen for an ARC box for book three, which will be out on September 7th!!

First off you should check out my review for book one, Heartmender, here, then proceed with this review if you’re interested!  I loved Heartmender for it’s lyrical mix of fantasy, adventure, clean content, and religious allegories that were not overpowering.  Heartbreaker sees the characters begin their journey in earnest, with all the growing pains of becoming a young hero.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Heartbreaker
  • Series: Heartmender, #2
  • Author: V Romas Burton
  • Publisher & Release: Monster Ivy Publishing, September 2020
  • Length: 338 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟⚡ yes for YA, fans of Christian fantasy/fiction, clean content seekers!

Here is the description from Amazon:

After finding out she is the Bellata–the prophesized warrior meant to save Decim–Addie, along with James, returns to Barracks to unite the Twelve Magisters. But as she discovers her old home in ruin, Addie stumbles upon Silas and Nana, the only people left in Barracks.

As Silas explains what happened, Addie remembers the special gift Eman entrusted to her. She gives the gift to Silas, only to learn that he’s the young blacksmith who fought through the Seven Choices, making Addie unsure of how to react to her old friend.

Dodging an attack from Schism, and another deadly ally to Ophidian, the group finally makes their way to Ramni, where a familiar face joins them–one Addie never wanted to see again.

If Addie can’t learn to balance her new power, successfully unite the Twelve Magisters, and figure out what’s going on with a new voice in her head, Ophidian will destroy all the twelve lands …

And she’ll never know who is capable of betrayal amongst her friends.

The Plot/Story: this second novel sees Addie and company out on a quest to unite the Magisters of Decim, gain their allegiance in the fight against Ophidian.  The plot is once again fast moving, with obstacles being overcome fairly quickly in order to advance the storyline.  Now that Addie has newfound confidence, responsibility, and a crew of friends & family to fight alongside her, what will happen? There is plenty of action, lessons learned, good along with the bad, but man – this one ends on a cliffhanger!

Themes: While Heartmender was about choices and the seven sins, Heartbreaker is about sacrifice and trusting in Eman’s plan.  He isn’t with Addie but his voice is still heard, his plan is known, and there is a super cool magical book that I am pretty sure is an allegory for biblical guidance, although I am not positive.  Other wholesome themes include friendship, trust, finding family, self worth, and trusting that one is never alone.

Continuing worldbuilding: One of my favorite parts was learning the back story of the antagonist, and how all of this evil came to be! A lot of questions from book one were answered in this, including questions about Addie’s family.  The author did a great job expanding on the world of Decim to include the other realms, inhabitants, issues, and even geography to make the world richer.

The Characters: Addie has some serious “coming of age” challenges to overcome.  She is the Bellata, so she should be independent, in charge, and unruffleable – right?  It was nice watching her learn to work with a team, test out her feelings for Silas, and start to come into her responsibility.  She also drove me nuts sometimes jumping to conclusions and blaming others, but it’s part of learning to socialize 

Silas is a good character in this one too but I can’t really say why.  He is a great protector to Addie and tests the group.  James and Nana and Claire ❤ also Damien … It is a good group.  

I think the reason I scored this one a little lower is because of how easily the answers to the puzzles come to Addie.  She races through the first few magisters and while it works to further the allegories and storyline, I think I would have liked her to be tripped up a little more.  The book makes up for that at the end though, how in the world are they ever going to get out of that situation??

At heart this is a complex story and I think it would make a great buddy read for readers of any age.  That targeted 13-18 range is totally 100% appropriate too.  In the coming weeks I will be posting about book 3 so stay tuned for that!!


Meet the author:

V. Romas Burton grew up bouncing up and down the East Coast where she wrote her first story about magical ponies at age seven. Years later, after studying government and earning an M.A. in Theological Studies, V. Romas Burton realized something even bigger was calling out to her–stories that contained great adventures and encouraging messages. Her debut novel, Heartmender, has won several awards including: First Place in Young Adult for the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Second Place in Juvenile/ Young Adult for the 2021 Illumination Book Awards and tied for Third Place for Young Adult Fiction- Fantasy/ Sci- Fi in the 2020 Moonbeam Children’s Awards. You can find future updates and news on her website: http://www.vromasburton.com

from Amazon
Categories
Fantasy

Book Review: The Day Star by W.N. Cleckler

Thank you so much to W.N. Cleckler for sending me the second book in The Wisprian World series, The Day Star! This is an epic fantasy series that is unapologetically Christian in nature, perfect for the Easter time of year. I am totally delighted by this book filled with cunning and gore, hope and hopelessness, war and betrayal, as well as found family, faith, friendship, and sacrifice.

Click here for my review for Book 1, Tears of Alphega

Quick Facts: 

  • Title: The Day Star
  • Series: The Wisprian World, #2
  • Author: W.N. Cleckler
  • Publisher & Release; Whisper Press,  12/25/20
  • Length: 402 pgs
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ yes for those who like a healthy dollop of faith with their fantasy!

Here is the Synopsis from GoodReads:

Perfect love.
Ancient rebellion.
Overwhelming redemption.

The shattered heavens empower unlikely heroes to overcome the origin of darkness.

Before the spoken earth, Alphega treasured His whispered world, Wispria, from the heavenly realm of Agapia. Yet, after destruction of the Agapian Gate, by the Archeon leader, Lure, and his legions, Alphega wept tears of power over seven Wisprian companions. These survivors must discern when to use them, journey to find magical shards of agapate, and use their elemental abilities against the evil that seeks the stones. As the darkened world grows colder ushering in an age of ice, can these unlikely heroes overcome Lure before he reaches Agapia and enslaves The Wisprian World?

With a cast of fantastical characters, new adventures in undiscovered lands, ancient rebellion, overwhelming redemption, and perfect love, W.N. Cleckler’s fantasy series will have you unearthing a new world of possibilities in our ultimate origin story.

The Plot and Story:  I find it endlessly difficult to summarize these books!  Basically now that Lure has formed his armies, he is ready to march across Wispria to the main city and this book encompasses what I would call the first open conflicts.

The seven adventurers from book one also reunite and learn more about their destinies.  Vague prophecies don’t help so much, but they must discover how to use their gifts and agapate to survive, and fight back against Lure.

I felt some of the same disjointedness from book one in this novel as well, except it made more sense as we learn a lot more about each hero and Lure’s history on Wispria. I think the author realized where the holes in the World Build were and really shored it all up so the books can move forward!

I was certainly never bored though, there is just so much going on in the different storylines, and the battles were so exciting!

The Characters: The original seven tear bearers from book one are back, and we learn a lot more about their back stories.  Duolos became an unexpected leader, Pales and Animus became real people, and each character really has to accept their role as an uncelebrated ‘hero’ in this war.

I liked spending more time with each character and how they embraced each other as newfound family.

There is one new character, Kit, who deserves mention – Telle the unicorn took him under his wing to go accomplish side tasks, and I am extremely interested in his role moving forward.  There is so much juxtaposition of good vs evil in this book and Kit (a nephilim) vs the various depravities of the Dephilim are in as much contrast as the Archeon (angels) vs Archestokos (essentially fallen angels).

Themes: Really if you haven’t guessed yet, good vs evil is the main theme in these novels.  This splits beautifully into faith in the creator, trusting Him, free will and choice, identity, personal sacrifice, and obviously a soul crushing war as well.

Animus’ speech about heroes and family was absolutely everything

The World:  I’ve already described how intricate and well fleshed this world is, in both reviews.  The Day Star expands on individual kingdoms, weather, customs and highlights in individual regions, and some of the utter atrocities that Lure is committing. 

I liked Tears of Alphega quite a bit, but The Day Star truly takes the time to invest the reader in the world and characters.

Where did I dock a star? I hate to do it but this book honestly needed one more proof read.  Nothing too glaring but there were typos, inconsistencies in the narrator’s voice (most of the time when Alphega spoke to the reader directly, it was italicized – but not always. This was confusing). Additionally towards the start there were just a ton of commas, and intermittently words that I think were left when edits were made.

This is a beautiful book with gorgeous artwork, rich development, and so many intricacies.  I think it’s an absolute must for epic fantasy fans and Christian readers!

 

Categories
Fantasy Young Adult

Book Review: Heartmender by V. Romas Burton

Heartmender is a book that I saw making it’s Instagram rounds when the sequel came out this fall, from the same publisher as Dragon Blood!  I am all about clean reading books with wholesome messages, so I really want to thank Monster Ivy Publishing for taking on and publishing these awesome books!

Quick Facts:

  • Title: Heartmender
  • Series: Heartmender, #1
  • Author: V. Romas Burton
  • Publisher & Release: Monster Ivy Publishing, September 2019
  • Length: 338
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟⚡ for essentially everyone

Here is the description from GoodReads:

In the land of Barracks, the economy thrives on the barter of their citizens’ most precious commodity—a human heart. Each year, the Heart Reign festival is thrown for those who have become of age to trade their hearts for their deepest desires. And this year is Adelaide Tye’s year to trade.

After despising Heart Reign for years, Addie endures her Extraction and discovers that her heart isn’t gray and dying, like all other hearts in Barracks, but bright red, alive, and teeming with power.

With a warning from the extractor of hearts, Addie rushes through Heart Reign to make her choice—trade her heart to Schism, the monster who took her brother years before, or go in search of the Mender—a mythical man said to purify hearts and save her own heart. Either decision will rip her away from the one man who has always been by her side.

Knowing there is only one real choice to make, Addie jumps through Schism’s red door and is thrust into a dark and dangerous realm where she is faced with making a trade she may not survive.

The story: Heartmender is about a world where people literally trade their hearts for just about anything. Wealth, beauty, love, clothes -they sell their souls for their greatest desire. One year, a monster comes to the town and offers a new trade: your heart, for an unknown choice. Addie’s brother jumps at this choice, for unknown reasons, and her life drastically changes.

The world: I think this is a really well built world. Weather, history, geography, myths and legends, food, social structure: it’s all there. Heart reign is well explained and I really, really absolutely love how the monster’s realm is described and crafted.

It pained me to dock any part of a star but I eventually had to, for something I call “world plausibility.” At first I joked that no one can live without a heart, and Burton laughed and said “all the heart surgery goes under ‘magic’.” I can deal with that, but it still has to be world plausible – like maybe the citizens have a second pacemaker or another organ that keeps them alive. Star Trek was really famously good at making bizarre medical stuff world plausible.

Characters: I liked Addie and her anxiety, and watching her becoming more confident as her choices were affirmed throughout the novel. Brave, selfless, loving, conflicted, loyal – all words to describe Addie. Claire and Silas seemed good characters too, and there were so many little mysteries to solve about them all that advanced as the story went on.

Christ/Life allegories: First off, the book is not preachy at all, although the Christ/Life allegories are hard to miss. As Addie travels through Schism’s realm, she has to overcome seven doors full of temptations and obstacles, that are clearly the seven deadly sins. Those who succumb to the temptations (gluttony, lust, etc) turn into terrible monsters. There are also multiple usages of darkness and light, the lantern/guide on Addie’s path, and asking for help when it’s needed. In the afterward, Burton makes note that sometimes the light may only show you a few steps at a time, but it never fully goes away.

The book’s main theme seems to be about choice, and it resonates. There is always a choice and one must consciously make the choice to continue moving forward. Regarding more doors and choices and Addie’s fears, my favorite quote of the novel is:

“Not all doors lead to darkness”

-The Heartmender

My personal takeaway: I struggle a lot with the outcomes of my life choices and sometimes find anxiety a barrier to making further choices, and I needed that message in my life. Addie has similar struggles with anxiety and moving forwards at times. Sometimes one’s choices DO lead to light and positive outcomes, and it’s better to keep fighting than to succumb to whatever temptation is keeping one stagnant or afraid.

Anyway – I digress – overall, this is definitely a great fantasy read with a largely wholesome message. I really can’t wait to read on to book 2 and get into the more questy, uniting the realm part of the storyline!