The Family: The Brotherhood
By Donte M McNeal

Based in Michigan, Donte's Playground is a blog by Donte M McNeal. His posts range from nonsensical ramblings about anime, in-depth reviews of books and television/film, to random spurts of philosophical babble.

Alexandra Engllemann's "Sky Ghost" Series

Alexandra Engllemann's "Sky Ghost" Series

Today, I'll be doing somethingI haven't done in a while: talking about a series. though, I think to be fair, series is being generous considering only one of the books is a full-length novel, the other two bring short stories. Still, I'm eager to get into this, so let's dive into the world of the sky Ghosts!

Sky Ghosts: All For One (Book One)

Book 1 cover

Book 1 cover

So, I want to start off with this: Engellmann won style points for the mc's name (Tell me Pain isn't a badass name, and I will call bs). That already sowed the seeds for my to like Pain, despite knowing very little about her. I only grew to like her even more with the way she developed over the course of the book.

So what is Sky Ghosts: All For One about? To put it simply, it's a about a centuries-old war between super powered protectors of the human race (the titular Sky Ghosts), and those on the other side of the coin who abuse the powers they have to do what they want, whenever and however they please, even going as far as wreaking havoc on the weak (the Sky Beasts). Simple right?

Pain and her younger sister become the bodyguards of two young humans who just might the keys in taking down the Beasts' leader, but seeing as how Pain isn't exactly a people person, things don't go smoothly, because of course they don't.


- The Characters. They were beautifully developed over time. I'll admit, the first time I read about Dave, I thought I would hate his character, and while he is nowhere near my favorite character, he isn't my least favorite...wait, yes he is. He was the weaker of the main characters for me, but the others? We have Pain, my favorite character, who is basically a heroine who enjoy pushing buttons. She is amazing in every action scene she is a part of, her sister, Jane, complementing her skill set well. While Pain is definitely my favorite character, with Marco being a close second, Jane grew on me. I tend to gravitate towards characters that are difficult for others to like, but Jane was almost the opposite of her sister, being more caring and thoughtful, at least she showed that side of her more willingly.

Marco, who I saw mainly as the comic relief (who could hold his own against Pain, which is saying something), was an interesting character, who I can't wait to see more of and learn more about in the sequel. Their interactions were always fun to see. Well, Pain's interactions with anyone was fun for me to read. Chad was a great character as well, the character arcs of both Pain and Chad being something to behold. Dave, the weak link of the group in my opinion, I think was supposed to be the character who asked the questions we would ask had we been in the same situation, but he grated on my nerves a lot of the time. Unfortunately the leader of the Beasts, Eugene, seemed like he was a bad guy just for the sake of being a bad guy. Didn't really are for him as a character.

- The Action. The action sequences in this story are top notch. I've found that people find doing action scenes difficult and that shows in the execution, but not here. The action is fluid and progress quite naturally. I always enjoyed the fights, and even the training was entertaining. And with an organization with basically nothing but skilled fighters, actions scenes are found in abundance.


-The Pacing. Now, the action scenes were amazing, breathtaking, etc. But, there were times where the story seemed to drag. The action was always interesting, and there were quite a few character interactions that shone throughout the book, but there were times where I felt I could put the book down or at least skim through what I was reading. That though, wasn't the case for most of the book. The majority of the read, was engaging, to say the least.

- The Climax: The fight that the book spent most of it's time building up to, was in a word, anticlimactic. I won't spoil as to why exactly I feel that way, but I did not enjoy the "boss battle" as much as the other fights that happened in the book.

All in all, All For One was a great series starter, that did a great job of making me care for the characters, while also allowing me to immerse myself in a creative world, that maintains the perfect balance between realistic and fantastical.


Sky Ghosts: The Night Before

Book 0.5 cover

Book 0.5 cover

Now, Sky Ghosts: The Night Before is a short prequel, a peek into the world of the Sky Ghosts. Despite it's short length, it's packed to the brim with graphic violence, foul-mouthed characters and copious amounts of black humor. So, pretty much what you'd expect from a Sky Ghosts book.

From the get go of Sky Ghosts: The Night Before, I was reminded why I love Engellmann's writing and the character Pain so much. Her wit, personality and fighting skills are unmatched in my oh so humble opinion. I mean, this book starts out with her eating Mickey D's on the rooftop of a 72-story building casually talking about killing someone. She's such a fun character to read.

The action pieces were masterfully executed as always, easily pulling me in. The banter between Pain and Marco was so easy going and natural that it had me secretly wishing these characters could get a show based off of them. Antagonistic while familiar, snarky while almost familial. Their relationship is easily one of my favorite things about the Sky Ghosts books.

If you want a quick, engaging and outright entertaining intro to the immersive and dark world of Sky Ghosts, you can't go wrong with this one!


Sky Ghosts: Marco

Sky Ghosts: Marco is Engellmann's latest outing with the series. From what you've heard so far, I don’t think it’s a secret that I adore Alexandra Engellmann’s Sky Ghosts series, despite All For One being the only full-length novel out so far. That’s just how good it is. I read the main story before either of the shorts, mainly because it was published before them, but I’d think it’s best to check out the shorts after reading the main story, but that’s just my opinion. Now, for Alexandra Engellmann’s Sky Ghosts: Marco!

In this book we meet Marco, an angry, short-tempered nineteen-year old who is taken in by the Sky Ghosts. Once at their headquarters, he meets the equally angry and short-tempered girl named known as Pain. And thus begins a tale of epic proportions centered around rivalry, mistrust, and revenge! Okay, not really; it’s really about exploring Marco and Pain’s initial antagonistic attitudes towards each other, ripe with heated exchanges, brutal training, and borderline sadistic pranks.

It was a fun look into their pasts, though I do wish it was longer, but that’s just because I want to learn even more about these characters. They’re some of the most memorable I’ve come across in the past few years. To say I’m eagerly awaiting the next book (or anything new relating to the series) is a massive understatement. The Sky Ghosts series are full of action, humor (laughed out loud quite a few times) and violence, as well as memorable characters, cool powers and engaging plots. Led by a snarky, foul-mouthed badass young female lead Engellmann has created a world where one can get lost in for hours at a time, and as such has found fan for life in me!

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