Book Stop: ARC Review – A Game of Survival by T.R. Tells

A Game of Survival by T.R. Tells

Publisher: Self

Published: December 12th 2018

Genre: Fantasy

Series: A Game of Survival #1

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I joined an ARC review team for this book via Book Sirens in exchange for an honest review.

Triggers: Rape and Abuse of children and young adults.

I’m going to say 2-2.5 for this story. I really felt like the story started off really strong with a really dramatic entrance, but as the story progressed it as almost like there were too many ideas trying to converge into the story all at once and it became confusing, non cohesive at times, and honestly it felt like maybe the author didn’t know where the story was going until it got there. I also feel like the blurb was misleading and nothing like what story really turned into. The blurb gave me a “Children of Blood and Bone” feel but this is nothing like that.

We start out with our FMC seemingly being a magi, in a world where magi are being persecuted, but then we find out she is roma and we touch on what that means here and there but its never really explained and woven into the story cohesively. Apparently they aren’t the same thing. I also felt like there were many times throughout the story that the dialogue and plot line seemed to really drag on and even drift away from any end game or goals. There were several times when I had to make myself go back and figure out how we had gotten a certain place.

Thea our FMC kicks off our story pretty roughly, her sister telling her to be a boy as she is dragged off by the kings guards rounded up like all other magi. Her last words telling her to survive.. So she does, barely, doing some really awful things. Her rage causes her to weaken to allow demons to inhabit her. She ends up with a group of child thieves living basically on the streets stealing to survive. She is constantly getting caught. The inner demons/conscience talking to her trying to make her choose bad or good or just arguing with themselves in her head made scenes confusing at times. Eventually just as things are looking up they take a nose dive straight to hell as their rag tag group are found and basically used as sex slaves and thieves. The book skips forward between parts and Thea has even more people to look after as well as a lead to her sister. In all honesty, we start off headed in the direction of revenge but never get there and in the end it seems like we are going to be in the midst of a battle of the gods.

Usually I’m a huge sucker for some mythology, but the Norse mythology and how it was woven into this particular story with the “Roma” which was described more like gypsies those are from a whole different set of mythology “Romani” and the concepts sort of clashed for me. Then there was also the whole “demon” concept which comes from a whole different set of ideals. There were several concepts that I did like in the story, however, one being the whole conscience ideals. The story really seemed to take a lot from the Native American proverb of the 2 wolves existing in each man, one being good the other evil and the one you feed is the one that wins.

Really the mashup made for a really confusing read and it was hard to just grasp what the main plot of the story was until the very end. I kept trying to grasp one idea and hold on for dear life but this book was not having it. The frustration of trying to remain focused on the book made it just ok for me.
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Book Stop – ARC: Behesians by Isaiyan Morrison

Behesians by Isaiyan Morrison

Publisher: Self: Isaiyan Morrison

Published: December 6, 2018

Series: ??

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal

Behesians by Isaiyan Morrison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a hard book to rate. I’m thinking 2.5 stars though I feel like there were certain aspects that I would have rated a 3 so I am going to round it up. There were multiple aspects about the story that I liked. I felt that the whole concept was fresh and had a pretty unique origination explanation but it really lacked some details to make it cohesive. This has the appearance of a standalone novel but this is far from over and must be a book in a series.. and if I’m honest this read like a continuation or spin off of a series. I could not seem to shake the feeling that I fell right off in the middle of some on going story where the details and the world building itself happened long ago. I will say that there was enough information for a reader to make some generalizations or guesses to fill in the blanks so to speak…well most of them I think. What world building and backstory we did get here seemed a little repetitive and the same information was thrown at us again and again but never expanded to answer my questions. The characters told the story of how Vain ended over, and over, and over but we never really found out the entire why? or what was trying to be accomplished, and honestly there was no definitive on the who was responsible, it never honestly came out. I also had issue with several of the concepts of the Behesians having the same problem.. though the book talks about Bridging repeatedly.. and I gathered from the reading its like “mating”.. maybe? The concept was never explained in detail, nor did it seem surprising that Cassidy was bridging with multiple people?

Character wise I felt a disconnect with every character because I didn’t feel like we ever got enough details about any of their stories, or at least enough details for me to really bond with them. This may have to do with the overwhelming amount of character viewpoints. For example the story never went into detail about Darrien, one of our Male MC’s what his and Milan’s, another Male MC story seemed to be because it seemed they were friends at one point, nor why Darrien thinks he can never bridge with someone. The truth is I wasn’t a fan of any of the characters looking back.. Ava especially.. Omg that girl went on and on and on with her anger and grudges, hate, and total selfishness. I couldn’t stand her at all. Cassidy, our FMC, was naive, whiny and kind of pathetic, and we honestly didn’t even stay in her viewpoint long enough for me to have any sort of grasp on her personality, her wants in life, her dreams.. did she even have friends? hobbies? What even is her last name? Same as her father’s maybe? who really knows. This was a little disheartening for me as the reader because in this world that I’m unfamiliar with I can’t even seem to put my faith in our supposed heroine to lead me through.

The book kicks off after the short prologue with Cassidy on her birthday, after about 5 mins in her head I was already not a fan. She seemed like the really moody, depressed, antisocial, unappreciative teenager. Not really someone I could even say I would want to be friends with irl. Cassidy hates her birthday and runs through the whole drama mama cycle as her “family” tries all day to seemingly make this a great day for her.. I don’t think the book ever says why she hates her birthday, but I assumed its because she believes her mother died while giving birth to her.. but that could be wrong. This is one of the examples of the little holes the reader must figure out or make assumptions for themselves about. Another thing that kind of threw me, is at one point at the very beginning of the story Sara is referred to as her “stepsister” and later is referred to as her “half sister” but neither is ever explained like where Sara’s mom is etc, no info is given. While out and about on her birthday Cassidy and her “sister” run into Elijah and Darrien who seem to have some beef with each other and noone really finds it weird that Elijah’s coffee cup catches on fire during the altercation. Later Elijah shows up at Cassidy’s house with a completely unbelievable story casting everything in Cassidy’s life under scrutiny and basically telling her she is living a lie. From this point starts our adventure which mostly consists of a bunch of bickering and fighting and very little actual explanations on what in the world is going on and what anyone’s end goal is. Eventually we are left on the run, with really no more explanation that we began and a bunch of characters who’s in all honesty decisions make little or no sense to me.

All in all I never got close to DNFing this book, it made enough sense to keep me going and the concept was interesting enough for me to really want answers but it just lacked cohesiveness, a backstory I could understand and get behind, as well as at least one character that I really could bond with and get to know. These all may come later.. who knows as I am not quite sure if this is supposed to be a series or not.

* I received an advance copy of this book through BookSirens via the author in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.*

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