Author Archives: Tay.Laroi

Mirror at the Heart of Time (The Changing Hearts of Ixdahan Daherek Book 3)

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Mirror at the Heart of Time (The Changing Hearts of Ixdahan Daherek Book 3) by [Laporta, Mark]

Mirror at the Heart of Time is a brilliant conclusion to an equally brilliant series that will leave readers ecstatic, on the edge of their seats, and heart broken to see such great characters go, but it’s well worth it.
In the thrilling conclusion of “The Changing Hearts of Ixdhan Daherek,” Ixdahan and Lena face the universe’s greatest threat yet: a force that seeks to erode time itself. After all they’ve been through together, defeating a culture based on a miracle diet, getting a girl from the future back to her time, and finally figuring out their relationship once and for all should be a piece of cake…right?

In case you haven’t noticed, I adore these books. The wonderful characters, the outlandish conflicts, the strange worlds and aliens, all of it. Mirror at the Heart of Time is no exception. In addition everything I loved about the first two books, the trilogy’s conclusion reaches a level of maturity that makes it a must-read for fans of YA, especially fans of YA sci-fi and fantasy.

I’ve talked at lengths about Laporta’s great world building and creative story telling in the reviews for Heart of Earth and Heart of Mystery, but I can’t emphasize enough how great his characters are, especially in this final installment. It’s been quite the adventure watching Ixdahan and Lena grow as characters over the course of these books and Laporta gives them the perfect send off, both for the characters as well the readers, I think.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth mentioning again: If you write YA, sci-fi or otherwise, I highly recommend this series just to see how Laporta writes teenagers, because he does it brilliantly.

So, if you’re a fan of YA, sci-fi, or you want to take a few hours and feel like a kid again, check out the entire Changing Hearts series. It’s a smart, funny, endearing trip through the cosmos you won’t soon forget.

“Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen” by Arin Andrews (A Book Review)

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Some Assembly RequiredRaw, real, and brilliantly human, Some Assembly Required,” is a much-needed journey through  the life of a brave young man in a time when policies have become more important than people.

17-year-old Arin was born Emerald, but he knew from a young age that wasn’t who he was. Through years of rough housing with his cousins, tutus, beauty pageants, YouTube videos, girlfriends, proms, and every other messy part of growing up, Arin finally came to terms with his identity and began to take the steps to finally being wearing his “soul on his skin.”

Just on the writing alone, “Some Assembly Required” is a great read. Arin has a great narrative voice and a gift for storytelling that puts his life, the people in it, and his inner turmoil in vivid color. If you’re looking to write a memoir, I highly recommend checking this book out. I’m not usually one for memoirs, but I couldn’t but this one down.

On a more personal level, Arin captures every feeling, every moment, in brilliant detail, bringing his experience–an experience increasingly in the spotlight–out into the open in a way that’s easy to understand and follow, regardless of a reader’s previous exposure to trans identities. This makes his book a great teaching tool, story, and conversation-starter in equal parts.

So, if you looking to familiarize yourself with the experiences of trans teens in America (which is a good idea honestly), “Some Assembly Required” is a great start. It’s personable, informative, and just and enjoyable read.

That being said, please do keep in mind that Arin’s experience is one of millions in America. While “Some Assembly Required” is a great introduction, it shouldn’t be the end all of your reading on the subject. There are plenty of other great titles available that dive into different trans experiences and identities, which would also make great reads. 🙂   

“Heart of Mystery”– Mark Laporta

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Plot: 5/5       Characters: 5/5       Writing: 3/5        Entertainment: 5/5       World Building: 5/5

 

51wgxgwbihl-_sx331_bo1204203200_   When an unlikely intergalactic alliance comes to light, Ixdahan Daharek (AKA Derek) and his human best friend, Lena Gabrilowicz, must save not only the Earth this time, but the very fabric of space itself. Between their search for alien cookware, stopping a clone army, and calming down a moody robot, Ixdahan and Lena must also figure out their feelings for one another once and for all. But no pressure, right?

 

Guys. I love these books so much. Mark Laporta officially has a spot on my “Favorite Indie Authors of All Times” list and I haven’t even been reviewing for a full year yet. “Heart of Mystery” is just as funny, creative, zany, endearing, and memorable as “Heart of Earth,” if not more-so since it builds on such a great foundation.

 

Just like the first installment, the sci-fi elements are funny, colorful, and an absolute joy to read. Between the new, strange aliens and the action there’s never a dull moment, no matter what species Derek is around and, yet again Derek and his friends are some of the best teenagers I’ve ever read.

 

Laporta knows how to tap into the most universal aspects of being a teenager and bring them to life in the most outlandish situations. Derek and Lena not only grow as an individual characters, but as teenagers entering adulthood, which can be hard to capture, regardless of the YA subgenre.

 

I don’t want to give too much away, but I just want to give an example. There’s a scene where Derek is talking with another character about the gravity of his situation and what the adults are asking of him. The conversation turns to Derek himself and how important it is for him to stick to his morals, especially in a situation with such dire consequences.

 

That kind of message is so important for young people, especially in times like these. Not only that, but Laporta makes the world around Derek and his friends so much fun and exciting that the message is bound to stick. I know the scene itself will stick with me for a long time and I’m 24.

 

So, if you like bizarre worlds, even more bizarre conflicts, and wonderful characters, go read “Heart of Earth,” if you haven’t already, and read “Heart of Mystery” intermediately after, regardless of your age. Your inner kid will thank you. And don’t forget to look for the conclusion to Derek’s adventures in “Mirror at the Heart of Time,” set to be released this summer!   

Looking To Get Your Name Out There?

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Looking To Get Your Name Out There?

Truth About Books, at http://www.tabbyafae.com, has been providing reviews for a wide variety of genres for a wide variety of readers since 2014. We do them free of charge, pay nothing for the books, and provide open and honest reviews for amazing authors that might not otherwise have their work see the light of day.


Our reviewers come from diverse walks of life with busy schedules, families, careers, no review experience, and tons of experience. So, if you’re reading this right now, WE NEED YOU!
If you read books and want to shout about them from the roof tops, or want to cast them into the abyss, come write reviews with us and introduce people to their next favorite book, or tell them what ones to avoid, all while learning how to write engaging blog posts or building your online platform.


We have positions open for part-time reviewers, so email us at tab@tabbyafae.com if you’re interested.
Happy Reading!

Succubus– Brandon Varnell

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Succubus– Brandon Varnell

Plot: 4/5       Characters: 3/5       Writing: 3/5       Entertainment: 3/5       World Building: 4/5

“Succubus” is a decent read, but unfortunately, it’s anime/manga tropes are probably going to loose readers who aren’t already into the medium.

Christian has repaid the Catholic church for their protection with his work as an Executioner, a killing machine charged with the extermination of supernatural threats to humanity. Vampires, werewolves, ghouls, Christian can handle it all. But when the church sends him to destroy a succubus, he quickly discovers that he’s over his head. Nothing about Lilith, his target, adds up. Succubi aren’t supposed to be afraid of men, yet Lilith is terrified. Supernatural beings aren’t supposed to be captivated by her either, yet Christian has to fight them off. Can Christian figure out what’s going on and get the job done, or will this be his last mission from God?

The mystery that drives this plot had me curious from the start and held me until the end. It’s nearly impossible to take a simple creature, like a succubus, turn it on it’s head, and not grab the reader’s attention. Varnell does a great job revealing this world’s secrets bit by bit, laying a trail of clues that you can’t help but follow and enjoy, at least a little bit.

Unfortunately, Varnell’s obsession with anime bleeds through the rest of the book, making anything outside the central plot awkward, annoying, or dull unless you share his passion.

From the very first chapter it was obvious that Varnell was trying to narrate a manga or anime rather than write a novel. The action is over-ornamented and drags on, which works well for a visual medium, but not so much for a written one, Christian is every bad-ass hero with a heart of gold and a tragic past, and Lilith is every cookie-cutter cutesy heroine from the last twenty-ish years of anime. She even yells, “Kya!” on occasion, which grated on my nerves a bit. These tropes have been overused enough in actual anime and manga. We really don’t need novel versions.

In conclusion, if you’re into anime or if you’re at all nostalgic for it, you might enjoy this. If the phenomenon is foreign to you or you’ve had your fill of it, there are definitely better urban fantasy titles out there. Maybe check those out first.

Class of ’59– John A. Heldt

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Class of ’59– John A. Heldt

Plot: 3/5        Characters: 3/5       Writing: 3/5       Entertainment: 4/5         World Building: 5/5

Mary Beth McIntire just wants a quiet summer in 2017. Mark Ryan wants to know what’s hidden in in the basement of the same house in 1959. When Mark discovers a key and a few mysterious crystals, he gets his answer and Mary Beth’s quiet summer is ruined thanks to his appearance. The summer vacation that follows was more than Mary Beth and her younger sister, Piper could imagine in this decade, or the fifties.

I want to preface this review by saying that I have the utmost respect for John Heldt. He breaths life into the past, his dedication to research and accuracy is admirable, and he clearly has a passion for what he does.

That’s probably why “Class of ‘59” felt like such a step down after “The Mine” and “Indiana Belle.” Especially “Indiana Belle.” 


To be fair, it’s as well researched and put together as Heldt’s other works. If you have any sense of nostalgia for the 1950’s, this is still definitely the book for you, but it could have been much more. While his other works had interesting conflicts and/or exciting plots, “Class of ‘59” felt like fluff show casing how great the 1950’s were. Both “The Mind” and “Indiana Belle” felt like well-rounded snapshots, so I was hoping for something similar here. What conflict exists is underplayed in favor of small talk and simply strolling around the era.

So, if you want to take a break and step into the 1950’s and like romance, “Class of ‘59” is a solid read. Like Heldt’s other books it’s also a good example of how to put together and execute a historical era. For you writers out there. However, if you’re looking for something with a bit more excitement, you might want to take a look at some of Heldt’s other work.

The Top 10 Cheap Reads of 2016

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          Happy New Year’s everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the last day of 2016! In case you need some help getting started on your 2017 reading list, here are the top ten books I had the pleasure of reviewing this year. Since the books cover such a broad range of genres and styles, I figured it would be better to list them alphabetically by the authors’ last name. If a title catches your eye, be sure to click on it to read the full review. Let’s check them out!

1. Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton

rarity           An android crashes outside a rural Appalachian town and offers to cure young Lacey Dawn’s family. In exchange, Lacy Dawn must save the universe.

          Between the zany characters, outlandish scenarios, and heart-breaking believable tragedy, “Rarity” stands out as one of the most memorable and unique books I’ve ever read. I’ve been informed that Mr. Eggleton has revised certain aspects of the book, so the version you read might be a bit different than the one I reviewed, but I promise it’s still well worth your time. Please note the content warning on the review.

 

2. Twiceborn by Marina Finlayson

51IKBSPYMHL          Kate O’Connor does her best to continue living after the death of her only son, but when she winds up in a battle for the dragon crown, her efforts to live a normal life gets put on the back burner.

          “Twiceborn” blends the action, magic, and adventure of YA fantasy and the personal struggle of more adult-centered fiction. The resulting story is an exciting journey that you won’t be quick to forget or put down. I personally enjoyed the wide array of folkloric creatures that prowl the pages. It’s rare that an author includes so many diverse beings without the book feeling crowded, by Finlayson does a great job.

 

3. Indiana Belle by John A. Heldt

51xlqnu7xml         Cameron never imagined that time travel was possible, until a college professor shows him that it is, giving Cameron the opportunity to save the love of his life.

          John A. Heldt is such a treasure. I’m not usually a fan of romance, but he’s easily one of the best authors I’ve discovered this year. “Indiana Belle” really showcases his strengths, making it my favorite novel of his that I’ve read so far. He brings the past to life with pinpoint accuracy and vibrate scenery, his characters are charming and memorable, and the stories are impossible to pull away from. If you love romance and/or history, “Indiana Belle” is a must read.

 

4. This Crazy Infection by Kaylim

51dudwx5ydl-_sy346_        Interstellar playgirl Myrha is just looking to get away a while. A cooky host, weird campers, a hot android, and flesh-eating zombies weren’t part of her promised vacation package, but that’s what she got.

          I love this novella so much. When ever I’m feeling down, I always come back to it. The writing is great, the story is hilarious, and the characters are a lot of fun. It also includes a great gay protagonist, which I feel is rare when looking for cheap self-published works. So, if you’re a fan of works like “Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy,” or are looking for more LGBT+ representation I highly recommend checking this one out.

 

5. Heart of Earth by Mark Laporta

511litsn4ml          After selling top-secret information to intergalactic warlords, Ixdahan Daherek is exiled to Earth and doomed to live as a human teenager. Just as he’s getting used to humanity’s strange customs and walking on two legs, his mistakes come back to bite him.

          This is another one that I absolutely love. Between watching Daherek adjust to Earth and his efforts to save the world, this book is a lot of fun. Laporta knows how to craft a story that’s equal parts hilarity, adventure, and heart. I can’t wait to see more of Daherek in the coming years with the continuation of his series.

 

6. Let There be Linda by Rich Leder

LetThereBeLinda      Life gets hard for brothers Mike and Dan when their mother dies suddenly. A girl claiming to breathe the dead back to life seems like the answer to their problem, but dealing with the colorful cast of characters that come with her, including a comedian cop, a coked-up dentist, and a reanimated poodle, just might be too high of a price.

       Rich Leder is easily on of the best authors I discovered this year. His books are zany, hilarious, creative and human in surprisingly equal measure. “Let There be Linda” showcases that all perfectly and I can’t wait to have the time to read it again. If you like darker humor or are looking for something a bit more off the beaten path, Leder is definitely your guy, whether you decide to go with “Let There be Linda” or one of his many other works.

 

7. Moonchild by Kate L. Mary

519zBDCvYyL          All Scarlett wants to do is survive, but when her best friend is kidnapped, she has to put her own safety and that of her friends aside. When she enlists a band of airship pirates for help, including the dashing Asher Kimura, her years of solitude and single-minded survival begin to fall away.

          I don’t even know where to start with this book since there’s so much to like. The story is captivating, the world building incredible, and the characters are a lot of fun, especially Asher. I also love that it has enough action and adventure for any YA fantasy fan, but it’s mature enough to capture New Adult readers as well. It’s a unique and enjoyable read and I highly recommend it to fans of either genre.

 

8. Twice Upon a Time edited by Joshua Allen Mercier

61wy8hnhlzl          Fairy tales often have dark roots and fables can sometimes end in tragedy. These roads and many more, most which are as dark as they captivating, are explored at great length in this collection of short stories by writers both experienced and new.

          I love folklore and fairy tales. The hold so much possibility depending on who decides to reinterpret them and which angles they decide to explore. “Twice Upon a Time” does a brilliant job collecting stories that breath life into timeless tales and new ones that could one day be timeless. It’s a great read for those who love darker fantasy and/or shorter fiction.

 

9. Pilgrimage by Carl Purcell

51xzcodflgl          Roland and Griffith are probably the most unlikely companions in Australia. One is a young optimistic man claiming to be a sorcerer and the other is a washed up loner who wants to drink his days away in peace. When they start making magical enemies, however, they’ll have to worth together to survive their road trip to Salem.

        Between it’s complex characters, simple yet fun plot, and exciting blend of magic and adventure, “Pilgrimage” is definitely one of the most memorable books I’ve read this year. It blends elements of fantasy with believable real-world dilemmas to create a unique read for any adult who grew up reading magical adventures.

 

10. Mutation by Nerys Wheatley

Mutaion          Just as the world is recovering from the horrors of the zombie virus, a new strand threatens to bring humanity back to a halt. It’s up to Alex, a virus survivor, to put an end to it before it spreads beyond his city.

          You might be burnt out on zombies by now, but trust me, “Mutation” is worth shaking off the zombie-frenzy fatigue and checking out.  The writing is superb, the story is exciting, and the characters are thoroughly enjoyable. Even the ones off their rockers. Even if you’re not a fan of zombies, “Mutation” is such a fun ride even if you’re a fantasy/sci-fi fan in the least.

 

  So, there they are, folks. I hope you found a title or two to take with you into the New Year. I know I already have a few.

  Thank you everyone who found this little blog and gave it a chance. I’ve learned a lot since April and can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store, both in terms of books and this blog itself. Happy New Year!