I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review!
A Lamb in Wolfe's Clothing (now titled Waking Wolfe) by S.L. Shelton was one of those books where you jump in hoping for, at the very least, a semi-entertaining read, but instead end up craving more after turning the last page. Shelton's debut took me by surprise and I have to say, it was awesome. I'm one of those readers who are always interested in the action genre but never actually get around to reading it--yeah, well, this is a book that definitely fed that craving. Never lacking in the action department, impressive twists and turns, and an intelligent storyline made this one a thrilling read.
Scott Wolfe (Yep, that's not a typo on the book cover!), the protagonist, is a savvy computer guy who knows where he stands both at work and in any of his romantic relationships. Except for the one he's currently in. When his world is suddenly invaded by a terrorist attack that included his (recent) ex-girlfriend, he takes it upon himself to go all James Bond. What ensues is an unforgettable and incredibly dangerous adventure that includes intense knowledge of technology and an intelligent mind set to accomplish almost anything.
At first, I was a bit wary of the narrative, since we're passed around from one character to another, before finally stopping on Scott and his current predicament. I appreciated how Shelton introduced the other characters in third person, while keeping Scott's narrative in first person because it allowed for us to connect emotionally with him, while keeping an almost professional connection with the other characters.
The character development was good, since we learn a bit about Scott and his relationships with the people around him, especially his girlfriend, Barbara. I find that it's important to note his romantic relationship, so that we can compare it to another relationship he forms while on his adventure. The contrast will bring to light some clues as to the state of Scott's emotion (which he seems to not have a firm grasp of.)
I find it ironic that Scott is a walking brain, yet he can't quite grasp the concepts of a relationship. This stilted and sometimes confused view he has of the people he bonds with kind of transfers to the reader, since we don't always know what to expect from him. As a result, Scott ends up being an oddity to the reader, just as he is an oddity to those around him.
The adventure itself is exciting. I loved learning more about Europe and how Shelton has us see even the least likely of people as allies. All of the usual cliched crutches that authors of the action genre fall on are abandoned as Scott fights back against a system that is constantly trying to push him down. We already know he's a genius, but he isn't perfect and the conclusion shows us as much.
I recommend this one to readers seeking an action-packed novel that takes place in Europe. This is the first in a series and I can't wait to read the next installment and see what dangers Scott puts himself into next!(less)
I received a copy via Oops! I Read A Book Again Blog Tours
American Girl on Saturn by Nikki Godwin is a young adult contemporary romance that takes the teenage fantasy of being (literally) locked up with a few of the world’s most famous boys. This novel is so much fun and full of so much cuteness, that it was hard for me to put it down. Quickly paced, addicting, and romantic, American Girl on Saturn was a fantastic surprise.
Chloe, the protagonist, lives a very interesting life. Right from the beginning we can see that her family isn’t exactly normal. The first clue is probably the fact that a crisis can be labelled under one of two different ice cream flavors, and the second clue is that her father works for the secret service. Immediately, the reader is pulled into this bizarre world where certain code names can mean the difference between large disasters and minor disasters.
But despite the fact that Chloe very obviously lives a privileged life, she is still a teenager that can’t escape her past decisions. Despite her age, Chloe’s story is romantic without being overtly sexy—which was a surprise. It was kind of nice reading a romantic contemporary young adult story that didn’t veer too far into the nitty gritty of sex. The storyline was intriguing and addicting enough without having to add in any unnecessary erotica.
What makes American Girl on Saturn so entertaining was how realistic and imperfect the boyband is. Each boy has his own quirk, like any normal teenager, and comedic situations arise once Chloe’s family begins to adapt to the boys’ presence. Milo, Chloe’s love interest, is serious to a fault, while Noah, the strawberry milk addict, shows his loneliness by stating that he’s always “out of the loop”.
And that’s just two of the boys.
American Girl on Saturn was easily one of the cutest books I’ve read all year. The dialogue makes for a witty read, while Chloe’s sisters add spice and mischief to the storyline. Romance is brewing in Chloe’s house and I like that the issues faced are larger ones, rather than simple, easily solved issues.
Watching the characters grow from their experiences during their summer lock down made this novel more believable, and Chloe’s at times fangirl behavior made the novel both more realistic and funny. I loved the allusions to present day pop culture—especially when Godwin goes as far as mocking some of the popular outlets for pop culture and the idea of how addicted our society is to said outlets.
Godwin’s novel is a great read for anyone looking for a cute contemporary romance that features dreamy boys and a hint of celebrity.
If you like romance, funny and cute situations, fast-paced stories, and novels that focus on the fun of the situation, rather than what could go wrong—i.e. strict parents interrupting the fun, or unnecessary moaning about not being good enough for a guy—then you just might love this one!(less)
I received a copy from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
Freshman Forty by Christina Duval is a new adult novel that follows Laurel, an eighteen year-old who discovers that she’s pregnant during her freshman year of college. Having read several new adult novels, I was expecting something a little sexy and spicy, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this debut deals more with the consequences of said sexy actions, and less with characters getting it on in every chapter.
Duval’s novel is a quick read that can be easily devoured in a day or two. The prose is to the point, but not in such a way that is off-putting. Her story has substance, since it shows us how difficult it can be to make decisions that have the power to change our lives forever, but it is also a little on the unbelievable side.
Laurel is an extremely smart girl who is beginning her college career at an exclusive college set in rural America, yet her decisions make me question her intelligence. For starters, her pride and standoff-ish behavior tends to make her unlikable at times, especially when she opts out of sharing her news with those she loves. It’s a good thing that this is the first in a series, because I would love to see where Duval takes Laurel’s story.
Laurel’s relationships are complex, especially the one with her father. It’s easy to see why she is so stubborn. But I felt bad for Laurel, too, because it wasn’t like the people around her made it easy for her to open up. Yeah, she should have been more open from the get-go, but it’s not like Laurel didn’t have a reason to be wary. Let’s just say that her father can be really cruel with his decisions.
Freshman Forty is a little cliche (i.e. rich girl, easily fixed problems), and very predictable. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a fun read.
I don’t know what it is, but Duval’s writing pulled me in immediately. It could be that I like the idea of young pregnancy and how a character can grow from the experience. It could also be thanks to the easy flow of Duval’s prose. Either way, I was hooked and couldn’t put the book down until I finished it.
Is Freshman Forty something philosophical and life changing? Maybe not. But hey, if you want a book that has a complex family dynamic, powerful friendships, possible romance, and comments on one of society’s largest contemporary issue, then this is definitely something for you to put down on your to-read list.
Duval’s a new adult author to keep an eye on, and trust me, I was very happy to see that Freshman Forty was just the beginning!(less)
I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
Stray by Evan Fuller is the anticipated sequel to Mutt, Fuller's 2011 debut, and the second book in the Rittenhouse Saga. Written in beautifully descriptive prose and set in a complex post-apocalyptic and dystopic world, Stray is a must-read sequel.
Whereas Mutt acted as an introduction to the Rittenhouse Saga, Stray focuses more on the characters and their development after the tragedy that strikes Emery, the protagonist, at the conclusion of Mutt.
In a way, I like to think Stray is a preparation for the fight Emery and his friends are going to go through in the remainder of the series.
Of all characters, Emery's destructive growth is the most haunting, since it is the portrayal of a kind of lucid madness brought on by grief. The secrets, darkness, and naivety of the world Emery inhabits come to light in Stray, giving even more depth to the series.
One of my favorite aspects of Stray is how the uncertainty, fear, and urgency is felt throughout the novel. We, as readers, are made to empathize with Emery as he races against not just the odds, but the clock. We cringe with him as he uncovers truths, and feel deep sadness for the past secrets he shares.
Just like Mutt, Stray has a fantastic series of heart-pounding scenes where Emery is tested beyond his limits, and where the story reaches suspenseful climaxes. Fuller has a skill for creating anticipation and delivering what the reader seeks with style.
What I wasn't a huge fan of was the pacing. Though beautifully written, the prose is sometimes weighed down with description, slow-progressing situations, or internal struggles. It took me much longer to read it than I'm accustomed to and I think it was because it was a very heavy read--by heavy I mean overly wordy.
I would recommend Stray to readers of dystopian young adult fiction. Fuller does more than bring forth an interesting and original series, his novel asks as to consider the following: "What would you do if you lived in an incredibly oppressive world (much more oppressive than our current one), and more importantly, would you risk everything to make a difference--no matter how big, or small?"(less)
I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
Wander Home by Karen A. Wyle is a literary novel with an interesting setting: a unique interpretation of what the afterlife may look like. Wyle's novel is mysterious and complex. Laced with romance, familial love, and a mystery that forces us to question our beliefs of what comes after death, Wander Home is a very thought-provoking read.
Eleanor, the protagonist, is a woman we meet only after encountering the other minor, but not one-dimensional, characters. Her fear of the unknown is understandable, especially when her life, or afterlife, is finally starting to make sense. Her relationship with her daughter, Cassidy, is sweet and though Cassidy can assume any age she wants, it is refreshing to see the innocent love she harbors for the mother that left her when she was a young child.
Wyle's world is exquisite and unique. The descriptions of places visited are delicately described, like the reader is taking in what the characters are seeing as if s/he were actually there viewing it all. Wyle does not miss any chances to describe the beauty of what she's dubbed as her version of the afterlife. The prose is nearly lyrical as characters shift from one place to another.
Though at times either too complex to follow, or predictable, the storyline is a nicely paced construction of character growth, mystery, and a blooming romance. Rather than give the reader all of the details at once, Wyle makes the reader work for the answers by dropping hints here and there.
I will admit, however, that though Wyle's world is incredibly imaginative, it is also limited. I often had questions regarding the rules of this world the characters inhabited--most regarding one-dimensional characters.
Wyle's novel is a fresh twist on the afterlife. Her characters, and she's got many, share the story as the omniscient narrator details what each character is experiencing in this new world. I liked the omniscient feel of the novel because it gave me less reasons to ask questions regarding some of the characters.
I recommend this novel to readers of adult fiction, but also to young adult readers 14+, due to some adult themes--but nothing too severe. If you're a reader who enjoys stories of the afterlife, unique romance, redemption, and familial ties, then I recommend this book for you. (less)
When I first started reading “Three Cheers for Chunky” by Mike Ronny I w...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
When I first started reading “Three Cheers for Chunky” by Mike Ronny I wasn’t sure what to expect. On one hand, it was a relief to read and review a short story, on the other hand—I haven’t read a short story since last spring, and that was for school. On that note, however, I found Ronny’s short story to be a fun, light read with a surprisingly strong message.
Chunky is, well, overweight, as his name would suggest. He is challenged by his coach to go beyond what he would normally do when faced with a sports-related dilemma. Chunky is a character that many of us can relate to, since we tend to stick to what is easy and well-known. Very rarely do we take risks, and if current literature isn’t proof enough, we tend to stick to the sidelines and hope for the best.
But not Chunky. Thanks to his coach’s prompting, he goes and pushes himself to his limits. I liked the coach, he was well-known in the world of the story, but he wasn’t snarky, or rude. He earned the respect given to him and that is obvious in the heartfelt conclusion.
Though Ronny’s story is short and sweet, it was a quick read. The dialogue is colloquial, adding to the authenticity of the situation. Also, instead of weighing the story down with needless descriptions and backstory, the reader is given the most important facts, hints about Chunky’s life, and enough information to make the reader wonder what will become of Chunky.
I recommend this short story to anyone who needs a reminder that sometimes hard work pays off. That we have to push ourselves beyond our limits, sometimes for others, but mainly for ourselves. Also, this story may prompt the reader to remember those who’ve changed his/her life in some way. (less)
Ryan Hunter's inDIVISIBLE is a very impressive young adult dystopian no...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review.
Ryan Hunter's inDIVISIBLE is a very impressive young adult dystopian novel. The story is fast-paced, brimming with potential, and hosts a collection of mysterious and well-rounded characters. Hunter's novel is a wonderful start to a very promising series.
I knew from the moment I met Brynn, the protagonist, that she would be a difficult character. Only a few pages in and she was already someone questioning her world and what her government told her. Brynn is a great character because rather than make the reader feel unattached, she manages to get a reaction out of the reader with her actions and words.
Something that did irk me about Brynn's character was her naive attitude towards her love interest, "T". I've never been fond of characters that question the obvious because it feels redundant. Though watching their relationship flourish, despite their situation, was sweet, I was not impressed with Brynn's comments. Of course, I understand it is normal for a girl to question the actions of the opposite sex, (Brynn is a teenaged girl who's world has fallen apart, after all), but I found everything so obvious when it came to the two of them that I found myself getting a little frustrated.
I found it interesting that Hunter approaches the topic of God a little later into the story, but applaud her for how she introduces the topic to the characters. Brynn and T treat the topic of religion as a curious thing; as something once frowned upon by the society they fear. They use God as a source of strength, but not the main source. Brynn's character grows as she begins to accept the norms outside of her close-minded society, such as the idea of God, and I found this a powerful technique.
Hunter does a masterful job, however, of bringing the reader right into the action. She does not waste words on unnecessary descriptive chapters before the catalyst for the plot occurs. Instead, she opts for showing the reader Brynn's world as Brynn herself rediscovers it. Not only does this make the story a refreshing read, but the reader has the opportunity to figure things out for him/herself.
The attention-grabbing action is nonstop. From the first page until the conclusion, the reader is held captive in a world full of dangers and mysteries.
I would recommend inDIVISIBLE to fans of The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, and other similar dystopian series. The world created by Hunter is as addicting and heartbreaking as the series mentioned, and Brynn is reminiscent of all the strong female protagonists.
I loved every moment of this novel. The story gripped my heart, carried it through the wide expanse of dangerous woods that the characters fought through, and then it shattered along with the characters once the conclusion approached.(less)
Rebecca Bloom's Eat, Drink, and Be Married is a sweet adult fiction nove...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
Rebecca Bloom's Eat, Drink, and Be Married is a sweet adult fiction novel that explores the relationships between four women. I'm a sucker for a good chick lit novel, simply because I like the drama and the path to redemption that women in these novels encounter. Though fairly well written, Bloom's story starts off shaky, but picks up shortly after the midway mark.
The characters are diverse and each have their own issues to overcome by the end of the novel. My greatest issue with Bloom's characters is their believability. Most of the characters have successful lives that feel unrealistic and over-the-top--An example would be celebrity status success and name-dropping to add a "wow" factor.
The first half of the novel is where Bloom emphasizes the success of her characters to the point where her story lacks credibility. But the novel quickly bounces back as the girls finally get together for Hannah's wedding, due to the story switching from a show-and-tell of who's done what, to four friends and their bond. This portion of the novel was, in my opinion, the better half of the novel. This is where readers can relate to the characters.
The beautiful aspect of Bloom's novel is how each woman surpasses a problem in their lives, whether it is a romantic, familial, or personal struggle. Eat, Drink, and Be Married is full of redemption and acceptance. The reader is shown how a past does not determine the future and how everyone deserves a second chance, no matter where s/he comes from and what his/her situation is. (less)
I'm a fan of Sherry Soule because of how captivating her story lines are...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
I'm a fan of Sherry Soule because of how captivating her story lines are.
She has these immense ideas that, if put successfully onto paper, will steal the reader's attention for hours. The difference between Moonlight Mayhem and Beautifully Broken is extreme.
Beautifully Broken, the first in the Spellbound series, has a protagonist, Shiloh, that was a bit too emotionally unattached. In Moonlight Mayhem, the sequel, Shiloh is too emotionally attached to her father's death, but barely mentions her other friends.
Moonlight Mayhem will make an entertaining read for readers. However, my focus was occasionally stolen by misused words. I did enjoy, however, how the characters surpassed the high school cliches to work together on the problem at hand.
Seeing as this is a sequel, there's not much I can say without causing huge spoilers. So, read at your own risk.
(view spoiler)[What irked me was Shiloh's lack of mention or emotional response to the deaths of her friends in Beautifully Broken. It was like they had never even existed. I tried very hard to get past these issues and focus on the plot, which was quite good.
The mystery is exciting and, like her previous book, creepy as hell. I could relate to Shiloh's pain over losing her father, so that was a nice little moment. (hide spoiler)]
Would I recommend this book? Sure. The action is fast-paced and the emotional connection that Shiloh shares with her (still alive) best friend, Ari, is realistic. The story is riddled with creepiness and Soule strives to go beyond the cliches of the supernatural. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
There is a certain kind of book that always stays with you, whether you've finished the novel, or are just taking a forced break from reading. Sam Cru...moreThere is a certain kind of book that always stays with you, whether you've finished the novel, or are just taking a forced break from reading. Sam Cruz's Infallible Guide to Getting Girls by Tellulah Darling is one those books. Not only was this extremely risqué for the young adult age group, it was also something that challenged the norm of what we expect from guys and girls in this particular age group.
I loved Sam because he's this player who has a soft spot for the local abandoned kitty, and I loved Ally because she truly goes through great character growth. Both characters are imperfect and without even knowing it, they both end up helping each other. The reason why I think Sam goes beyond being your typical male character is because he isn't hit by instalove or insta-attraction. Sam is a seemingly flawless guy, but even from the get-go we see how scared he is of commitment. At the end of the day, Sam isn't anywhere near as perfect as he thinks he is and though I wanted to smack him for being so dumb, I also understood the struggle he was going through.
Ally grew a lot as a character. She went from being this totally dependent and frumpy girl, to a babe who found her voice. I like that she grew some cojones and stood by her choices. Unlike other female characters in some YA contemporary novels, she doesn't whine about the situations she's brought into, but instead finds a way to better herself.
But it's not just the two main characters (who share the narrative voice of the novel) that made Darling's novel a must-read. The secondary characters were very entertaining. Their little quips and side comments about certain situations make this novel so much better. With that being said, the dialogue of the whole novel was brilliant. Fast paced, sharp, and intelligent, the conversations between the characters really drew me in (and I'm a huge sucker for great dialogue!) The jokes were on point and the POP Culture and literary references blended with the comedy. For example: "One penis to rule them all, one penis to find them, one penis to bring them all and in the darkness bind them" (Darling, 22).
Oh yeah, I should probably mention the fact that a) This is for older YA readers and b) I couldn't stop laughing. Seriously, this is one of my favourite books of the year. I don't even know why it took me so long to read this!
I recommend this one to fans of The Duff by Kody Keplinger. If you've read that book, then you know that Darling's novel is pretty open about sex and having strong sexual relationships. Details aren't really given (because hey, teenagers), but it's still a theme--so, if you're a younger teen, be prepared. There's also cussing, which is normal for older teenagers.
I stress again: This was a fantastic book and I think anyone looking for a humorous, romantic, contemporary YA read will enjoy this!
Dee Doanes's The Man with the Green Suitcase is an interesting story tha...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
Dee Doanes's The Man with the Green Suitcase is an interesting story that spans over several characters, rather than the conventional single or double protagonists. The story, though a relatively fast read, was at times hard to follow, but in the end made perfect sense. Doanes explores the complexities of human relationships and the flaws that humanity harbors, while adding a teeny touch of magic and mystery into the mix.
I was constantly surprised by the immense change that some of the characters went through. In a way, it gave me hope that somewhere out there there are people like Doanes's characters. Also, the greed inhabiting some of the characters was disturbing, yet very realistic.
The novel's concept is original and a bit odd. Not in a bad way, but in a I-need-to-get-accustomed-to-this-originality way. Whereas we are used to the typical adult fiction novels full of romance and witty characters, or murderous plots, Doanes's book is simply a collection of different characters colliding in a story full of redemption, hope, and love.
Though the old man isn't mentioned as much as the title would suggest, the story does indadvertedly revolve around him. Stories clash and characters meet, but in the middle of everything is the old man and his green mysterious suitcase.
For a while, after I read the book, I wasn't sure what I thought about this. I mean, if you're title reflects one of the characters in the book, would you not make him more central? But then, I realized, the old man was central to the story line. Without him none of the characters would meet or have inner turmoil. He was the catalyst, the climax for each individual characters' internal struggle or conflict that s/he had to overcome.
The negatives that keep this book from being a five star book, in my opinion, is the need for more editing and the at times awkward dialogue. There were instances where the dialogue felt stilted, overwrought, or too dramatic.
But, keeping to the topic of dialogue, I have to comment on how smoothly Doanes blends the different points of view into a fluid omniscient observation of her world.
The twists and turns in the story the reader does not anticipate create a uniquely mysterious air to the novel. There are a lot, which is ridiculously satisfying. It is nice to know that I've read yet another book where I don't know everything that's about to happen. It's also interesting to have an ever-present tug of curiosity with the open-ended conclusion. (less)
I'm very conflicted after reading Superheroes Wear Faded Denim by Law Reigns. Though it grabbed my attention, it wasn't in my usual way. I gave the novel two out of five stars because the story was original, but I wavered between a one and a two because the writing was too archaic and lacked editing, while the characters, mainly the protagonist, Blissany Cherry, were so weak and annoying, that I almost put the book down out of frustration.
This book dripped with the sexual tension Blissany carried with her while on her adventures. Unnecessary metaphors including sexual innuendo appeared here and there, while religion also made a very frequent visit to the storyline.
Blissany was very weak. She was naive and stubborn to the point of stupidity. Seriously, if everyone is telling you the same thing, why are you still not believing them? Sure, the storyline picks up after a while, but Blissany's character still drove me insane.
I'm sorry guys, I really wish I could have enjoyed this one more, I really do. The story has so much potential and while others may enjoy this ten times more than me, I couldn't get into the writing. An example of something that really had me on edge is the word "upon". Reigns loved that word in her novel. Here are two examples: when a character placed something on a table, it wasn't "on a table", it was upon a table. When it rained, it wasn't "Rain fell on leaves", it was "Rain fell upon leaves". "Upon" is archaic and stilts the rhythm of the prose. It drove me nuts.
I would recommend Superheroes Wear Faded Denim to readers who want a slightly sexy read about angels and magical beings. If you like quirky stories with potential, then I would suggest this.
I wouldn't suggest it, however, to those who are like me and can't get past the flaws and archaic writing in a novel. (less)
I'll be honest, the cover of Blood of the Mother by Peter Tarkulich had...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
I'll be honest, the cover of Blood of the Mother by Peter Tarkulich had me wary of the story I was about to read. I didn't know what to expect, but for some odd reason I felt unsure of what awaited me.
This is why people should not judge a book by its cover. But I'm hardly the first person to do such a thing.
Tarkulich's novel is one surprise after another. The protagonist, Quentis, takes us on an exhilarating ride through a magical and mysterious world that parallels our own, but centuries in the past.
The diction is nearly flawless as Tarkulich adopts archaic writing to set the mood. Normally, I would be dead-set against anything too antiquated, but Tarkulich's novel is one of the exceptions. Without the archaic style of writing, the world that Quentis inhabits would be less believable.
What I also loved about Tarkulich's book is how he moves the reader along from one action-packed scene, to another engaging scene. There is never a slow moment in the novel. The prologue featured in Blood of the Mother is immediately a mystery, not in the "let's make this as brief as possible" way, but in the "wow, what will happen next?" kind of way.
I'm usually not a big reader of fantasy novels that take place in a historical setting--a fantastical steampunk novel, if you will--but I'm glad I had a chance to read this one.
Some of the strongest aspects of Tarkulich's novel are his characters. Quentis and his companions are fun and loyal characters that offer wit to the dialogue and an edge to the tone of the story. Each character has his/her own past, which the reader is informed of in a nicely paced fashion.
The blending of religion and fantasy is a huge selling point for Tarkulich's story. The characters are on a holy mission to find a salvation for an impending, magical war between two different religions.
At times, it felt like the religion in this book, even if fictional, was being forced on the reader. I understand that religion plays a massive role in these characters' development, but it almost felt like the reader was expected to follow this religion as well..
Despite my curiosity over the importance given to religion in Tarkulich's novel, I was constantly looking forward to what else came Quentis's way. Not to mention that I also wanted to see how the romance in the novel developed, although some relationships didn't get very far.
By the way, it was very odd reading my sister's name in the novel. Especially since she has a very uncommon name.
I would recommend Blood of the Mother to fantasy, historical (somewhat), adventure, and action lovers. Also, if you enjoy masterful storytelling, then you might want to check this one out.(less)
Jake Vander Ark's latest novel in his Blank Canvas Series, The Brandywin...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
Jake Vander Ark's latest novel in his Blank Canvas Series, The Brandywine Prophet, is the first adult novel I've read by him. Eye-opening, occasionally unnerving, and with a disturbingly intriguing protagonist, Vander Ark's latest is an exploration of the dangers of creativity and the human existence. Written in a near-omniscient style, yet maintaining William, the protagonist, as the main focus of the novel, The Brandywine Prophet is an interesting little book.
The novel is laced with the occasional red herring. Whereas other novels may adopt the use of red herrings, they are very rarely as effective as Vander Ark's false leads and spoilers. The reader will think that s/he knows everything there is to know about the story. Heck, s/he might even think that the story is predictable.
The beauty of red herrings is that they are rarely used, which I find tends to lull the reader into a false sense of security. I love that Vander Ark uses the possibility of having a slightly predictable novel and turns it into something completely unpredictable.
This unpredictability helps the characters grow or wither (depending on their situations) effectively. The reader often learns truths and falses as the characters do. Most importantly though, the reader sees how characters bond, or fall apart thanks to Vander Ark's somewhat sadistic twists and turns. And I mean that as a compliment, since he obviously has a great grasp of what makes his characters tick.
The two negatives that I could not ignore in The Brandywine Prophet, however, was the occasional lack of editing, and the sometimes slow pace of the story. Though definitely a book to read if you've read Vander Ark's previous works in this series, I found the editing to be weaker than in his other novels and the story was a bit harder to get into.
But keep in mind: once the story picks up, it doesn't relent--in fact, the slow pacing mostly occurs in the first half of the novel. If you stick with the story until the pivotal point where William's world begins to fall apart, you will be pleasantly surprised.
As always, Vander Ark's prose is beautiful. His descriptions, metaphors, dialogue, and poignant observation of a disturbed and artistic mind is what the reader should keep an eye on.
The story itself, though very complicated at times, tells the reader that not everything is as it seems. Religion is shown as a savior for some, but as the destruction of others. The topic of God is introduced, it is pursued, questioned, abandoned--but it is never forced.
Vander Ark's latest is as much a contemporary fiction piece as it is an existential examination--if we put aside the obvious dark themes of the novel. If you've enjoyed The Accidental Siren and Lighthouse Nights, then you should consider giving The Brandywine Prophet a shot. (less)
Dark and seductive, Lighthouse Nights by Jake Vander Ark is a gripping story of two teenagers who cross paths under one of the worst possible circumstances. Vander Ark displays his gift for the written word yet again, if not more precisely, in this novel about suicide, love, and the decisions we make.
What caught my eye right away was the writing style. Vander Ark disregards capitalization, save for moments where a character is emphasizing something being said, and manages to add even more darkness to his story. The lack of capitalization wreaks havoc on the most organized mind, causing momentary confusion and effectively draws the reader into the mindset of the characters. By not having the story written in the exact format that we, as readers, are accustomed to, Ark is challenging us to think beyond what we know and explore the troubles that teens facing depression may experience--all of this by simply alienating us from are previous conceptions of literature.
Of course, the characters, Jules, Trevor, and Gabriel, to name the important few, are all evidence of the darkness within these pages. Lighthouse Nights is a beautiful portrayal of how life can go very wrong and how decisions can affect us long after it is too late.
The format of the novel makes it a quick read--it is only 171 pages! And the style that Vander Ark portrays the different characters' narrative is fluid and easy to follow. Despite the dark concept, there are moments where the reader feels connected to the characters, even when they are angry, sad, or happy. That's the beauty of Vander Ark's writing: he has a wonderful way of making you a part of the story, despite the tone and context. Also, Vander Ark's poetic prose is hard to resist, making him a must-read.
Since this story is on the dark side, I would recommend it to those with a stronger stomach, simply because of how blatant it is about suicide. On the other hand, this novel, though knee-deep in gloominess, is a message of hope: you are not alone, there is someone waiting for you--you just have to search: sometimes s/he is right in front of you.
Read Lighthouse Nights and feel your heart swell and slowly break with the unexpected twist when the conclusion falls upon you.(less)
Kendra C. Highley's Matt Archer: Monster Hunter is a young adult novel t...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
I received a copy for review
Kendra C. Highley's Matt Archer: Monster Hunter is a young adult novel that follows fourteen, soon-to-be fifteen, year-old Matt as he navigates a supernatural world full of monsters and a mysterious life-altering prophecy. With a hint of teenaged angst towards young love, and spine-tingling descriptions, Highley's novel is a book that will make the reader both giggle with anticipation, and squirm with what Matt encounters.
I loved the characters of Will, Matt's best friend, and Matt because they help each other navigate the difficulties of growing up. Will's wit matches well with Matt's increasing strength as the protagonist. Will is the sidekick to the still growing and learning hero, and he fits the description of best friend, confidante, and unrelenting support throughout the whole novel.
When I first started reading Highley's novel, I wrongly assumed that since Matt was only fourteen at the start this would be a naive and slightly adorable story. Let me warn you, however, if you have a weak stomach, perhaps you should steer clear of this one. The story gets increasingly harder to stomach as Matt progresses deeper into his monster hunt, but it is well worth it. Highley doesn't save us from any of the disturbing descriptions and I applaud her for that. Her novel has a certain originality thanks to her fearless attempt at creating a successful horror story for the young adult audience.
Highley also has a great sense of pacing in her novel. Very rarely is there a lull in the story. The only instance where the reader might pause is during the explanation of why the monsters exist and the part Matt plays in the hunt for evil. The rush of information is a bit overwhelming, but is useful for later on in the story. Highley weaves a story that is easy to follow and is hard to put down.
If you're looking for an exciting book with tons of action and a slightly original monster story, then you might like this one. Highley offers the reader an insight into an imperfect protagonist that is growing as the story progresses, metaphorically and physically. He is also someone who isn't emotionally impervious to his surroundings, which makes him very relatable and realistic, despite the fictional situation.(less)
First thoughts when I finished reading Blood Heavy by S.L.J. Shortt: This story isn't complete.
Blood Heavy has so much potential. It has a strong storyline, witty dialogue, and sexy characters, but it has one major flaw: horrible editing.
The characters themselves help carry the story. The author's inspiration is Eric Kripke's Supernatural and I definitely noted that before it was mentioned at the end of the novel, but I can't look past the editing.
Another issue I have with this novel is how unorganized it is. Though the storyline is promising and intriguing, the plot is all over the place. I would stop reading just to understand what was happening during certain moments in the book.
Also, the protagonist has two names because his first given name is apparently too common in the world that Shortt has created, but no other characters are introduced with that particular name. As a result, there are moments where the narrator refers to the protagonist one way, while the other characters call him by a different name.
As it is, I don't know if I could recommend this book to future readers. I don't think it is complete. Blood Heavy needs extensive editing and I find the lack of editing very distracting and annoying.
I'm not giving Blood Heavy one star out of five because the storyline is strong and promising, but instead two stars because it is incomplete.(less)
Kate Mitchell's Aureole is a sweet and fast-paced novel that touches on the importance of family, whether related by blood or circumstance. Jessica Carleton, though a victim of a negligent and abusive household, is fostered by a rich family in New York City, while her siblings are sent to live with family. If the reader expects Mitchell's novel to be a "princessy, dreams come true" story, then s/he will be sorely disappointed. Mitchell goes beyond the cliches of the rich and jumps into the loneliness and downfalls of being a stranger in a rich, expectant family.
The one negative aspect of Mitchell's novel is the poor editing. Though the story follows a strong plot line, it is occasionally freckled with misspellings and repeated words. Having said that, however, Mitchell has weaved such a story for her readers that after a few chapters the editing is barely even noticed. Jessica's life with the Bishop family is fascinating and her friendship with the younger Bishop son, promising. It is easy to root for Jessica, even if she at times acts naive and too forgiving.
Though I could sense what is coming, thanks to the omniscient third person narrative, the events near the conclusion still shocked me. The reactions of the characters are proof of the character growth that occurs in the novel. One excellent example is how Jessica perceives the world near the last few chapters. Of all the characters, Jessica is rightfully the more changed.
As a debut, Aureole is an insightful view into the "princess" tale of a poor girl being taken in by a prestigious family. At times dark, funny, and heartwarming, Aureole shows more layers to Jessica's situation. In fact, money is barely mentioned regarding Jessica as she ages, except for the appropriate places. The reader does not see Jessica being bought everything, nor is she ever coddled. Jessica is the reality of how one might view the idea of a rich family taking in a poor young stranger.
I would recommend Mitchell's novel to those seeking young adult fiction that follows the life of the protagonist, rather than just one event. I also recommend this novel to readers who want the grittier side of the rich classes and their "generosity".
Aureole is a unique read thanks to Jessica's commentary on the Bishop family and her desire to overcome her misfortunes. (less)
GRUM! by Robyn Hill is an adventurous little book that immediately introduces the reader t...moreThis review was first published on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
GRUM! by Robyn Hill is an adventurous little book that immediately introduces the reader to the protagonist, Carol, as she is left at her Aunt's house for the summer. What follows is a fun, if not quick, adventure. There is an abundance of characters that grow as the story progresses and a sense of whimsical magic and childhood fantasies that takes the reader for an unforgettable ride. While I did have a few minor issues with this debut, they didn't deter me from finishing the story.
The characters read like miniature adults who tended to talk a bit too advanced for the middle-grade audience. I liked that Carol grew as a character, however, going from a grief-stricken and unhappy young girl to an adventurous and high-achieving teenager. Hill's writing style mirrors her love for children, since there are morals laced throughout the story and she appears to be well-acquainted with how children would respond to certain situations.
There were a few instances where editing would have made the story stronger, but all-in-all it was entertaining. I don't usually review middle-grade literature, but this was a fun read that I know I would enjoy if I were one of Hill's students. (less)
When I first saw that Jenna Elizabeth Johnson's novel was called Faelorehn, the first installment i...moreReview first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
When I first saw that Jenna Elizabeth Johnson's novel was called Faelorehn, the first installment in her Otherworld Trilogy, I didn't know what to expect. The title was a bit intimidating, since I usually shy away from books with unfamiliar words for titles. Thankfully, I ignored my fears and began reading this addicting young adult novel. While I did have some issues with the novel, this was a fun, quirky read.
Meghan, as a character, was split for me. On one hand, I loved the fact that even though she was different, she was popular or adored. Unlike other novels where the female character is usually revered for her unusually beauty, Meghan is just like any other teenager struggling to understand who she is, and in this special case, what she is.
What I didn't like so much about Meghan was how stubborn she was. Sometimes I wanted to pull my hair out with how infuriating she made me. For the most part, she was a strong character, it was just this tiny quality that had me on edge of loving her as a character. Johnson's other characters also felt a bit over-the-top with their bullying or their lack of understanding. While some were very funny, some were clearly sadistic.
While there were a few moments in the novel that lagged, I attribute any faltering of the pace to Meghan's irritating stubbornness. Apart for these instances, the pacing was superb. Johnson grabs your attention and rarely lets it go. Her writing is enchanting as she pulls you along, makes you addicted to her nearly flawless prose, then abruptly lets you go with an ending that leaves you begging for more.
For me, though I shook my fist in the air when the ending came upon me, I liked how Johnson leaves the story so open-ended. It's a great strategy because she concludes her novel in a way that is neither a way to prolong the inevitable with a needless second installment, nor in a way that makes you throw the book away with frustration. She finishes Faelorehn with a flourish, leaving the reader with a fulfilled, yet curious feeling.
I recommend this book to lovers of fantasy and those who have a soft spot for stories about faeries and mythical creatures. This is a fun read that needs to be read. You will fall in love with the male character who appears in Meghan's life and you will cringe along with the other characters.(less)
I received a free copy of The Accidental Siren for review purposes.
The Accidental Siren by Jake Vander Ark is a young adult debut set in Lake Michigan that follows twelve year-old James during the summer of 1994. This particular summer is unforgettable for young James since it is the year he experiences his first love. Beautiful and surreal, twelve year-old Mara is the object of every boy’s dream, yet her attraction goes beyond reality and touches on the supernatural.
Vander Ark successfully recreates 1994 for the reader by using references to popular artists, films, and trends of the time. He openly warns the reader of the prejudices that were still active in the early nineties; racial discrimination being an important subject in this novel. The Accidental Siren also explores the difficulties of growing up. James, a prepubescent boy when we meet him, struggles with his weight, hormones, and changing body as the summer progresses.
James, as a protagonist, is unreliable. As the frightening conclusion approaches, he does nothing to show us that he is affected by what he’s learned about Mara. At times, as is pointed out within the story, the reader is left wondering if James is in fact relaying the truth, or if everything we’ve learned from him is all an illusion caused by obsession.
There are moments where Vander Ark’s characters appear unrealistic. However, an older version of James reflects on particular events in certain chapters, reminding the reader that this is an adult’s retelling of a childhood memory.
Written in beautiful prose, Vander Ark’s tale warns of the perils of obsession. The setting is described using flawless metaphors that paint James's world in the reader's mind. The plot becomes more haunting with every chapter, effectively dragging the reader deeper into the story with every twist and turn.
Jake Vander Ark's debut is a wonderful book to read not just because of how original it is, but because the writing in itself is something magical that the reader can't detach him/herself away from.(less)
Strength & Justice: Side: Strength is the first installment in a young adult science-fiction series by Adrem Kay. Jeremy Itsubishi, the protagonist, leads readers into the world of Geminate City where danger and magic lurks. Kay touches on the Japanese culture via Jeremy's knowledge of the food and language of the culture. We are also given the opportunity to visualize some of the events in the novel by glancing at the six hand-drawn sketches scattered among the pages.
Jeremy is a 15-year-old smart-mouth with the habit of acting before contemplating the consequences of his actions. Though I liked Jeremy and his loyal personality, he is sometimes wearisome. While he occasionally acts and sounds much older than his age, there are moments when his whining and blatant misunderstanding of situations are a bit over the top. The reader watches as Jeremy's world quickly falls apart as the mysterious Repulsion Illness, a disease that rids a person of his/her magic, spreads. The fast-paced plot causes Jeremy to grow as a character. He does this by surpassing the comical facade that is presented at the beginning of the novel.
The relationship between Jeremy and his girlfriend Mandy is questionable. An aspect of Jeremy that irks me is how quick he is to place Mandy above every one else, even his mother. I understand the dependency the two teenagers have for each other, considering they are both from less than ideal homes, but I can’t help but wonder if this is a realistic portrayal of a relationship.
The biggest issue I have with Strength & Justice is the apparent plot hole near the beginning of the novel. Ellie, a minor character, barely appears before she is taken out again. Given her role in the memory that Jeremy recounts, I find it unsettling that the characters barely react to Ellie’s disappearance. As a result, this character feels like a last minute addition to the plot.
Putting aside the few flaws found in the characters, Kay has created intriguing and realistic characters. The reader will laugh along with the humor and will relate to the emotions portrayed by the characters. Kay's ability to write a novel that is both character and plot driven is intriguing, since I never know what will happen next.
Strength & Justice is a fun and original adventure that will have its readers guessing until the end of the story. Readers seeking a fast-paced novel that explores a world inhabited by magical abilities and a quirky protagonist will love this debut.(less)
When I jumped into Evan Fuller's Mutt I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. I have read...moreThis review first appeared on my blog: Book Addict 24-7
When I jumped into Evan Fuller's Mutt I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. I have read independent authors' novels before that have left me confused, angry, and even tired, so I won't lie, I was a bit weary. But Fuller's debut into the world of writing is an exciting and fluently written story that delves into the politics of humanity if the world were to experience catastrophic events (I'd like to even say that the points raised in the novel can be used to compare the different powers that countries in the present global economy hold).
The cover is intriguing and it forces the reader to look for any hints of what is offered within the pages. The magic can be seen in the wisps of smoke coming off Green, the central magical character in the novel, and the rough life of the Wastelands can be noted in the wear and tear of his clothing. The colour of the background might indicate the "wasteful" atmosphere that the characters explore.
The following synopsis is from smashwords:
"Centuries after most of humanity died out, a new civilization is slowly constructed upon the remnants of the old.
Emery, a young man living in the walled city of Rittenhouse, has taken it upon himself to rescue "mutts," as the citizens of Rittenhouse call the impoverished masses outside. When Timothy, a boy afflicted with a fatal illness, seeks Emery's help, the two embark on a deadly errand to secure the medicine Timothy needs. This mission takes them from the safety of Rittenhouse into the wasteland outside it, where ancient superstitions are reborn and humanity struggles to survive amidst the ruins of a fallen American metropolis."
To be honest, I have become a fan of Fuller's writing and only really had two complaints while reading the novel.
1. Editing. Though not to such an extent that it distracted me from the story, the editing could have been a bit more thorough. Some of the errors include: a few missing quotation marks, extra words, oddly phrased sentences, and missing words. The problems with editing weren't so huge that it completely killed the novel because the writing was still beautiful. Don't let this deter you though: a) because I am a stickler for these things in novels, and b) the story is brilliant and thought-provoking.
2. There is one moment where a professor is called out of a classroom and I never get to find out what happened... I would love to see an answer in the sequel!
1. Fuller's writing is effortless. When I first began reading Mutt, I found myself lost in the world of Rittenhouse and the Wastelands (which immediately brought my thoughts to T.S. Eliot, but I digress). The writing is fast-paced and this is mainly why I finished so quickly!
2. There is a scene that terrified the hell out of me. Why is this a positive? Because I rarely find novels that legitimately have sections that scare me to the point were I feel uncomfortable. For example, there's a point where Emery, the protagonist, is attacked and his thoughts become erratic. How does Fuller present the mental change of his character? By writing one long run-on sentence, which is an excellent technique when done purposefully with the intention of disturbing the reader and making him/her wonder why the author has written such a sentence.
3. The emotions that the characters experience are well written and I found myself empathizing with them. Let me tell you, some moments in this book will break your heart, while others will make you just as angry as the characters themselves.
4. The characters all varied for me. Lydia was a bit of a nag, but I understand why. (view spoiler)[That wholeromance in the novel was a bit unexpected, but I hope that it is explored further in the next novel since it left me feeling a bit confused. (hide spoiler)] The people in and from the Wastelands had a great dialect, which Fuller continuously used. He varied it slightly as the social status of the characters either rose or fell. Emery is of a higher class, so his dialogue was rich and intelligent.
5. The description of things that survived after the extinction of the world as we know it and how the world rebuilt itself is brilliant. It was fascinating to see how things would be in such a world and how our actions now would be viewed later.
Mutt is a great debut novel and I urge you to read it if you enjoy dystopian novels that not only explore magic, but also the political issues behind the changes that the world undergoes when it is trying to fix itself.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)