I love to curl up with a nice, steaming cup of tea and a free book to review. In fact I subscribe to three book review sites: Book Crash, Book Rooster and The Bookplex just so I can indulge in my favorite leisure activity. What’s even better is when an author contacts me for a review. If you’re an author looking for someone to review your book or short story, check out my Request a Review page.
Because I like to share the great reads I’ve found (and warn readers of the not-so-great finds), I developed a system:
- One cup — worse than a cup of luke warm black pekoe
- Two cups — it may be hot, but you’ll need plenty of sweetener just to tolerate it
- Three cups — it’s not my favorite, but it beats going without
- Four cups — nice and hot and only needs a smidge of sweetener to be perfect
- Five cups — loose leaf vanilla Earl Grey, yummy
Sometimes a book or story doesn’t warrant a five cup rating, but it’s so good it can’t be missed. For those I include the “Must Read” starburst in front of the cup rating. You’ll find my cup rating above the picture of the cover. Enjoy!
Crystal Shade: Angeni, Volume 1 by István Szabó
“Thousands of stars could tell thousands of stories.”
Seven year old Grace always dreamt of becoming a guardian angel; like those who guarded and guided her people and prepared to bravely fight in a dreaded mythical event, the Crystal Shade – which never came. It’s not like Grace ever wanted to see Demons. Or wants to know what evil and darkness is – things that no one ever faced on her world and as the legends says, the Crystal Shade carries within -, nor does she want to die to be reborn as a guardian. But she thinks the mysterious life of angels is so noble, a fable that it sounds exciting – until it actually happens.
Crystal Shade: Angeni, Volume 1 explores the early life of a young daydreaming soul who is destined to reveal the forgotten past of her home world and to seek the answer to the eternal question; what the legendary Crystal Shade really is.
The beginning sets a great mood, making the reader want to know what the bogey in the dark is.
Most of the really good writing occurs near the end of the book. For example, there is some very good description of everyday animals we take for granted, which Angeni has never seen. It makes it easy to figure out what the creature is without the author having to name it.
Theme plays a major role in the entire book, leading to some thought provoking messages. I love stories that make me think about what I believe and what may be true. This book has a lot of passages that do that.
The author warns in the description: “IMPORTANT: Please be advised that Crystal Shade: Angeni and its episodic release, Crystal Shade: Episodes is not a fast and easy mainstream read. You can’t quickly skim through and read it in one night, but you have to absorb the words and create the fantasy in your mind. Therefore, if you don’t like slower-paced books or non-mainstream storylines, please read the excerpt before making any purchase.”
If you’re looking for a book that begins with conflict or is paced faster than a snail, look somewhere else. This is an epic tale and, as the volume number indicates, will be told in more than one book. In fact, the story ends just when the conflict begins. I like to call this the Soap Opera Gimmick: end every book in the middle of a fight so the reader will buy the next one to see what happens. I don’t know about other readers, but I feel cheated when authors do this. Leave me with questions, but don’t leave me in the middle of a conflict.
Another complaint I have is the overuse of some words, especially the words “shy” and “cold.” It made me think of what Inigo says to Vizzini in the Princes Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Lastly, there are entire scenes that seem to be unnecessary. For instance, why does it matter to the reader what the names of the gods and goddesses are and what provinces they supposedly rule? The author spends an extrodinairy amount of time on world building, using specific names and stories to explain the placement of each province. Perhaps the information will come into play in another volume, but it was tedious in this one.
Take the author’s warning seriously! While I enjoy books that make me wonder about truth and reality, I also like them to balance that with action and external conflict. Crystal Shade has very little of that, which often bored me. There is plenty of action near the end, but it left me unsatisfied because the story itself didn’t end. My suggestion is this, read Crystal Shade if you enjoy long, slow tales and don’t mind a cliff hanger ending. If that’s not the type of story you like, then you’ll probably want to pass on this tale.
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