The Island by Jen Minkman [Book Review]

Kindle Edition, 80 pages
Published June 1st, 2013 by Patchwork Press
Series The Island #1
Copy provided by NetGalley and published in exchange for my honest review.

“‘I walk toward the sea. The endless surface of the water extends to the horizon, whichever way I look.

Our world is small. We are on our own, and we only have ourselves to depend on. We rely on the Force deep within us, as taught to us by our forefathers. 

If I were to walk westward from here, I would come across a barrier – the Wall. Behind it, there are Fools. At least, that’s what everyone says. I have never seen one.’

Leia lives on the Island, a world in which children leave their parents to take care of themselves when they are ten years old. Across this Island runs a wall that no one has ever crossed. The Fools living behind it are not amenable to reason – they believe in illusions. That’s what The Book says, the only thing left to the Eastern Islanders by their ancestors. But when a strange man washes ashore and Leia meets a Fool face to face, her life will never be the same. Is what she and her friends believe about the Island really true?

Or is everyone in their world, in fact, a Fool?”

The premise of The Island immediately drew me in as I read it on NetGalley. It was mysterious, and a little heartbreaking. Children are made to leave their parents at the young, tender age of ten years old and go to live in a house on the Island. I can’t even imagine having to go through this with my daughter. And being only ten months postpartum, I agonized over the beginning scene when Leia and Luc are leaving their house. It was sad, but I’m sure it hit me harder than it would most (aka I’m crazy).

On the whole, Jen Minkman wrote a very, very good story. I loved her writing and the pacing, even though it was only 80 pages, was wonderful. I would LOVE to know what happens after this. It was after midnight when I started reading, and I didn’t want to stop. I couldn’t turn away from these poor kids as they lived under the rule of the oldest boy, who worked them until they were dog-tired, made them fight each other as punishment, and dictated their lives. Watching this story unfold was mesmerizing. It had a very Forest of Hands and Teeth feel to it (minus the Unconsecrated, of course).

Now to address what you’re probably wondering. Leia and Luc? Yep. It’s what you think. I glanced at a few reviews when I went to add this book to my Goodreads shelf, and they had labeled this book as Star Wars fanfic. I was kinda dreading reading it. I even told my husband and he laughed. But after reading The Island, I don’t classify it as fanfic at all. Yes, there were parts that referenced Star Wars and made me chuckle, but there is a point where it all comes together and makes sense. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that there IS an explanation for the references. Promise.

I very much enjoyed reading The Island. This is a story about deception, abandonment, discovery and the beginning of redemption. If this novella sounds interesting to you, I urge you to check it out and not judge it until you’ve read the whole thing. As I said before, it’s only 80 pages and it goes quickly. This would be a great pick for readathons! The Island is a profoundly interesting read.

Note: As I was putting this review together, I saw that this is #1 in a series, and that makes me very happy!

Enemy Within by Angeline Kace
Published April 30th 2013 by Accendo Press

Series: Vampire Born #2
Author website
Source: Purchased by me
Amazon KOBO Barnes and Noble

Two guys who’ve stolen her heart.
Three races and only one of them worthy.
Countless enemies with insatiable bloodlust for power.
Will one girl’s curse ultimately save her? 

Half-vampire Brooke Keller barely survived the slaying of her worst enemy, only to learn that Zladislov—the world’s most powerful vampire, leader of the vampire world, and her father—wants her dead. However, this time, she’s not only fighting vampires but a raging monster within her that endangers what’s left of her humanity. And when a deadly disease threatens to take her best friend’s life, Brooke tries to convince Kaitlynn to accept a monster of her own: becoming a Zao Duh.

As a former slave to the Pijawikas, Mirko is driven to protect the innocent at all costs, but he has never faced a foe more formidable than Zladislov. And when the Commission bears down on Brooke, Mirko finds the stream of enemies runs deeper than he ever imagined.”

Enemy Within is the new thrilling addition to the Vampire Born trilogy from author Angeline Kace. I was lucky enough to have beta read for this novel, and let me tell you, it’s been awesome to be able to watch this story grow and evolve. Kace’s writing abilities just keep getting better and better. I purchased my copy as soon as it went live on Amazon!

Brooke has really shown some growth as the main character. She’s accepted her new life as a half-vampire/Pijawika. In a perfect (paranormal) world, she’d get time to acclimate to said new life, revel in the new strength, discover other abilities and really get to know Mirko. BUT Brooke’s reality is far from perfect. Right off the bat, Kace immerses Brooke into action. It’s definitely not all fun and games. Brooke has to deal with some really terrible situations. She goes through a roller coaster of emotions as the story progresses, and she can’t be sure of anything. Is her father the evil man she’s always thought he was? Is she, herself, evil? I really felt for her. Brooke isn’t one to shy away from her emotions. She felt them in the moment, but didn’t really wallow in it. I’m tired of female male characters that just take horrible situations all in stride and never FEEL. I like a little vulnerability. There has to be a good balance, though. Too much whining and I want to gouge my eyeballs out, but Brooke’s my girl. She pulled herself together and did what needed to be done.

Books Worth Reading:

I found the Pijawkan history and society very intriguing and frustrating. Intriguing because of the different classes of Pijawikan society. The different ‘levels’ all have their own lifestyles, manners/protocols, and purpose. Pijawikas are like kings. Powerful and rich. Drustvos are the servant class, and pretty much live to serve the Pijawikas. That is their one duty in life. Then there are the Zao Duhs, who are treated like garbage even though they’re the ones who are called on to protect the upper class. That’s where the frustrating part comes in. Mirko, who we ALL can agree does no wrong, is degraded in several scenes in Enemy Within, and it made me SO angry. I wanted to punch someone!

Speaking of Mirko, I really enjoyed getting to see his point of view. He is, of course, my favorite character in this series. Yep, I’m Team Mirko all the way. There are just so many layers to this guy, and we’ve only seen beneath a few. Yes, he’s extremely cocky at times, but it’s because he’s fought tooth and nail to get to where he is. Mirko has gone through so much pain, horror and debasement as a Zao Duh. It doesn’t matter that he is the best fighter and can see past schemes and stay one step ahead of his enemies. He is a Zao Duh and that means he is less. It’s absolutely ridiculous! Mirko is loyal and dedicated, especially to Brooke. He even takes care of her friends even though they’re human and don’t listen to anything he says. Through his frustration with that he sees how much they mean to Brooke, and he honors that. We get to see beyond his arrogance in Enemy Within, and though his past has some very, very dark times,  I very much enjoyed watching his character develop and deepen. That’s probably my favorite thing about this book.

(I have to mention the ‘love triangle’ since it’s in the synopsis. Let’s just say that in my mind, there was no real competition, ever, and leave it at that!)

So much that happens in this book that there’s pretty much no time to chill out. If there’s not a fight breaking out, someone is betraying someone else, or people are fighting for their lives. We’re taking in the scenery of Croatia one minute and then dancing in a club the next. There really never was a dull moment. The ending had me yelling ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!’. I was stunned. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, it was really a very good ending. You’ll think you know how it’s going to end, and then Angeline Kace sucker punches you in the gut.

I’m dying for book 3, and you can bet I will be nagging Angeline Kace for it every chance I get. If you haven’t checked this series out, DO IT! The Vampire Born series has a completely different take on vampires, and it’s one of my favorites. Take a break from whatever your ‘normal’ is and pick up the first book, Descended by Blood, and let Mirko take your mind off things for a while!

Books Worth Reading:

You may also like