Sequels can be hit or miss, however Jamie Thornton nailed it with her second book in the Feast of Weeds series, Contamination.
Although the story picks up roughly where the first left off when it comes to timeline, Contamination follows a brand new set of characters in their journey to survive the outbreak that is quickly turning the population into rabid zombie-like beings.
I really enjoy how Thornton ties in the past characters to the new ones, and I appreciate that the author gives some explanations as to how the virus began and the scope of the spread.
Another aspect of the novel that I like is Corinna’s backstory. The glimpses into her past make it easier to understand her decision making throughout her stuggles. As for Dylan and her "friend" Jane, well… I didn’t like them much however I don’t suspect that the reader is supposed to.
Honestly, I preferred Contamination over the first book of the series. It’s just as action packed as Germination however since Contamination is a full-length novel instead of a novella, I feel that Thornton was able to offer so much more to her readers.
All in all, Contamination is a can’t-put-down zombie thriller that will have you reading into the wee hours of the night.
NOTE: I received a free copy from the author in exchange with an honest review. ...more
https://thechroniclesofjen.wordpress.... Set in northwest Canada during the nineteen seventies, A Dog and His Boy by first time author T.F. Pruden follhttps://thechroniclesofjen.wordpress.... Set in northwest Canada during the nineteen seventies, A Dog and His Boy by first time author T.F. Pruden follows one unconventional family and their lives in an isolated ranch as they learn to survive lost childhoods and broken homes.
Let me start by stating that A Dog and His Boy was a decent novel. While exploring themes of isolation, loss and family relationships, Pruden does a good job at giving the readers a sense of what life in northern Manitoba must have been like. I especially liked the strained dynamic between Tommy and his father and imagining how desolate it must be being a child growing up the way they did.
This being said, I found the novel to be very slow paced and I have to admit that I struggled to complete it. This could be blamed simply on personal taste; these types of novels/movies rarely appeal to me. Still, it didn’t keep me as engaged as I had hoped.
NOTE: This novel was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. ...more
He Knew a Firefly by Smita Bhattacharya centers on Akshara who has the ability to see the futures of the people she loves. However her “gift” is more of a curse than a blessing as it seems that every life she touches is thrown into turmoil. Akshara must try to light the dark paths of her loved ones before fear and guilt consume her.
Bhattacharya writes in a graceful, almost lyrical style that I’ve rarely encountered in past novels and this poetic talent is certainly her strong suit. Seriously, her writing is exquisite.
I also really enjoyed having a glimpse into some of the different cultures of India. The author does this with ease, even adding words from her native tongue into the dialogue of the story without losing her English readers.
Where I encountered some problems was in the plot. Bhattacharya has created three loosely connected stories, all tied together by Akshara’s relationship with them which in theory is great however I found the storylines were somewhat difficult to follow. Because of this confusion, it made it difficult to connect with some of her characters.
If I were to give a rating on the story alone, He Knew a Firefly would get 3 cups of java. However, because I feel that Bhattacharya’s writing itself is beautiful, I have given the novel a 4 out 5 cup rating. ...more
The “She” Stands Alone by Nadine Keels is a cute novella about bibliophile Sheridan Jones; a woman who has been scorned by loved and decides instead to date herself.
I really liked the message of this story; you need to be cool with who you are before you can fully invest in a relationship with someone else. In short, it’s ok to be single. Its advice so few people follow and yet it makes perfect sense.
Also, the awkward interactions between Sheridan and mailman/neighbor Eugene were funny. He may have been a tad too short for Sheridan’s liking but I was rooting for Eugene!
What didn’t I like? Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about the cover art. If I had been scrolling through the Kindle store, I would have likely passed on buying this book and that would have been a shame.
If you like a clean romantic comedy, I recommend giving The “She” Stands Alone a try.
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange with an honest review. ...more
Pale Highway by Nicholas Conley tells the story of Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Schist, a brilliant man whose mind is slowly slipping away due to Alzheimer’s disease. With a new horrific virus hitting the human race, Gabriel knows that he may be the only person capable of finding a cure –as long as his mind remains intact.
Let me say this: Pale Highway is like nothing I’ve ever read before. At once a sci-fi, it remains at its core an intimate look at a man’s struggle with a devastating disease. Conley’s style of writing is solid but his greatest talent lies in his character development. The journey of getting to know Gabriel was absolutely touching. Conley has openly said that his work in a nursing home was a huge inspiration for Pale Highway and his connection to the patients shines through in his writing. It’s personal, it’s heartbreaking, it’s immensely frustrating and at times it’s even funny.
I especially like that for most of the novel I wasn’t 100% sure that Gabriel was a reliable narrator. With the character’s questionable visions (there are talking slugs, people) and the sudden presence of mysterious newcomer Victor, Conley expertly has his readers second guessing everything they were so sure of.
The novel’s vivid depiction of life as a nursing home resident is unapologetic. Seriously, it will make you want to visit whatever loved ones you may have in this type of situation. By reading the book however, the reader will soon realize that Pale Highway itself isn’t nearly as wheelchair ridden as its characters. This is a fast-face, can’t-put-it-down thrilling read as Gabriel races against the clock to find a cure.
I highly recommend Pale Highway to fans of sci-fi, thrillers and to anyone with a soft spot for Alzheimer’s patients (and talking slugs, of course).
Note: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I’m Not Your “Baby” by Joy Jennings is a poignant look at one woman’s personal experiences with sexual harassment, assault and rape.
Telling this story must have taken a great deal of courage from the author. Victims of sexual violence are so often silenced by their fear and I commend Jennings for putting it all out there. And trust me, there are tons of terrible encounters to tell. Many instances in the book were very uncomfortable to read and I can’t imagine how it must have felt to actually live them.
What I found most distressing throughout the book was how Jennings’ experiences with sexual harassment and assault were so often downplayed by those around her. Being told to “just ignore it” or the ever popular “boys will be boys” excuse is unfortunately so reflective of our society. All too often, it seems as though the victims are pegged as the problem and that they should be the ones to change their behavior or appearance as to not entice abusers.
Another aspect that struck me was the degree of frequency Jennings was harassed and assaulted. I feel as though this woman has to be the unluckiest person in regards to the men. It’s so disturbing that there are women out there who repeatedly have to endure sexual violence. I feel blessed to have a fair amount of male friends – none of which would ever behave remotely close to the way hers did.
Normally, I feel uneasy about reviewing a memoir. There are so many useless memoirs out these days (I’m sorry, but having parents and a childhood doesn’t of itself qualify you to write a memoir). When I agreed to review Jennings’ story it was because I felt that there was something to be learned by the horrifying events that happened in her life. I respect the author immensely for her bravery and for sharing her story with her readers. Note: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Pretty Dancer is a contemporary YA romance novel by first time author Cora Graham. The story revolves around Lilly, an aspiring dancer who hasn’t had the easiest home life so far. As she fights to overcome her past, she must also learn to trust and open herself to the possibility of loving again.
Yes, it was a little long and dragged on in some places. Yes, there were some minor typos. And yes, the dance choreography descriptions weren’t my favorite aspects of the story (I blame this on being a dance instructor myself – occupational hazard). But honestly, those minor issues didn’t take away from how much I loved this book. Let me say it again; I. Loved. This. Book. It had so much heart. Lilly’s relationship with her twin brother Luke was my favorite depiction of sibling dynamics in a book so far. As the story progresses, you begin to understand why Luke’s overprotectiveness is so appropriate regarding Lilly. The intrigue surrounding their father and what happened between them keep you guessing until the very end and for once, I didn’t see the truth coming from a mile away. And Carter? SA-WOOON! Holy hell. Seriously, the build is so slow it felt like the biggest literary tease ever. However readers don’t despair; it is so worth the wait. The car scene between Carter and Lilly? HOT, HOT, HOT.
The only things I would change about this book are some minor editing and removal of the prologue. Honestly, the book would do nicely without it. It seemed unnecessary and actually had me thinking that I wouldn’t like the book (which, thankfully, I totally did).
If you’re a fan of YA, teen angst and romance then pick up Pretty Dancer. You will not be disappointed! ...more
Missed Chances is a collection of five short stories that all feature themes of love and loss. The book was edited by M.R. Nelson and the authors include L.M. Montgomery, Kate Chopin, Rabindranath Tagore, Helen Hunt Jackson and Constance Fenimore Woolson. What is unique about this book is that although all of the writers lived in the 1800s, their stories are still relevant and have stood the test of time. They are heartwarming, melancholic, with just enough humor to keep it lighthearted (Aunt Philippa, I'm looking at you).
Speaking of Aunt Philippa, she is by far my favorite character in the book. She's a man-hating woman and an absolute riot to read. Her simple explanation of “that’s the men for you” for every undesirable situation that arises with the opposite sex is funny to say the least. I don’t want to give too much away but there’s a cute twist at the end that I rather enjoyed. Bonus: the story takes place in PEI, which isn’t too far from my corner of the world.
The stand out story for me is The Victory by Rabindranath Tagore. As silly as it may sound, it reminds me of a rap battle gone wrong between two poets (read it – you’ll know what I mean) which obviously wasn’t how the author intended it when he wrote it back in the 19th century but for some reason that’s how I imagine the scene would go down if it happened in today’s day and age. Rap battle aside, Shekhar’s decision at the end reminds us that it’s important to never give up as we don't know what the future holds. Sure, the ending is sad but then who doesn’t love a good love tragedy?
I’m really happy that the publishing company, Annorlunda Books, approached me to review this book. I wasn’t familiar with any other the authors and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to discover their work. It may not cater to everyone depending on taste however if you’re a fan of romantic tales from the Victorian era, pick up Missed Chances - you're sure to enjoy it.
Note: This book was given to me by the publishing company in exchange with an honest review. ...more
A Fist Full of Evil is the first book in the Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer series by Rebecca Chastain. The story revolves around a Madison, a womanA Fist Full of Evil is the first book in the Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer series by Rebecca Chastain. The story revolves around a Madison, a woman who is behind on bills and doesn’t have her life quite in order, who lands a job as an illuminant enforcer. What’s an illuminant enforcer? Madison has no idea and yet somehow she is left with the daunting task of figuring it out in order to rid evil from her region. I’ll say this; the first half of the book really had me. It was fresh, playful and funny. On a few occasions, it even had me laughing out loud. I applaud the author on her creativity since the world she has created in an overly saturated market of YA fantasy is refreshingly unique. Madison is an interesting character with a temper and her decision making isn’t always the smartest, but I liked her better for it. Her somewhat serial man-crushing and raging hormones were also pretty entertaining. I enjoyed following Madison as she discovered who she really is and what it means to have “soul-sight”. My only complaint though is that somewhere around the middle the novel seems to fall into a slump of sorts. It was also a little long for my liking and I believe that if it had been shorter the lull I experienced wouldn’t have been so noticeable. It did keep me engaged enough to want to finish the story though and happily, by the end, I did feel like I would be interested in picking up the second book and seeing where it goes. Overall, it’s a good start to a new series. There’s potential here and I look forward to reading more work from Chastain.
There’s something almost Spielbergian about Jonathan Ballagh’s sci-fi novel The Quantum Door that brings me back to the glory days of Close EncountersThere’s something almost Spielbergian about Jonathan Ballagh’s sci-fi novel The Quantum Door that brings me back to the glory days of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Set in the not-too-distant future, two young brothers, Brady and Felix, get more than they bargain for when they decide to ignore a No Trespassing sign and hop a fence into the unknown. They soon find themselves thrown into a dark technological world filled with secrets and danger around every corner.
Ballagh’s writing is solid and readers are quickly transported inside his imaginary scientific alternate world. Thankfully, even the techy stuff is easily understood. I feel this important considering the novel falls under the “tween” age group so super complex storyline and scientific terms could have lost young readers (and likely me as well). Although it’s aimed at readers between the ages of 10-14, The Quantum Door is fun for fans of sci-fi of any age. The characters were intriguing and I especially enjoyed the bond that forms between the two brothers.
I’d like to highlight the cover and inside art work done by Ben J. Adams. I loved the illustrations and felt they related beautifully with the story.
The Quantum Door is an impressive debut by author Jonathan Ballagh and I would recommend to fans of adventure and sci-fi.
“Remember my name. Because I’m going to be the one that kills you.”
Frostfire is the first book of The Kanin Chronicles which takes place in the same w“Remember my name. Because I’m going to be the one that kills you.”
Frostfire is the first book of The Kanin Chronicles which takes place in the same world as Hocking’s Trylle trilogy. Much like her previous work, Frostfire made for a fun and easy read. Although it is a stand-alone book and focuses on a different kingdom, I’d still recommend reading the Trylle trilogy first. By doing so, you’ll have a more in-depth understanding of the background and inner workings of the trolls.
Did I just say trolls? Yup, that’s right; no vampires here. And don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything by telling you that the story revolves around trolls (I mean, it’s on the back of the book after all). That being said, these trolls look nothing like the 90s dolls we had growing up. They are smart, powerful and for the most part, pretty freakin’ hot.
Hockings sweeps you away with the snowy landscape set in an undisclosed northern area of Canada. Her characters are well developed and the main character, Bryn, isn’t the typical angsty teenager normally found in the YA genre. She is a strong and goal-driven young woman, determined to climb the rankings in her dangerous career. Because I always appreciate a kick-ass female character, Bryn had my vote of confidence from the get-go.
The romance felt a little slow but since it’s a three book series, I suspect that we’ve just hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Bryn’s love-life. The story also ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger which can sometimes be aggravating. Thankfully, all three novels are out and can be read back to back (which is likely what I will do).
Overall, Frostfire offers an adventurous story filled with just enough action and mystery to keep you wanting more. If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, I recommend picking up this book!
I received this book as a free download from the author’s webpage and with Halloween just around the corner, this zombie thriller could not have comeI received this book as a free download from the author’s webpage and with Halloween just around the corner, this zombie thriller could not have come at a better time!
The story revolves around Mary, a homeless runaway, who quickly runs into problems when faced with an unknown viral outbreak spreading across the city. The book is enjoyably fast-paced and seldom allows its reader to come up for air before hitting them with another wave of groaning zombies. The plot is strong, while the narrative and characters hook you instantly. Moreover, I liked its perspective and how Mary fits into the story. It’s a unique spin on a genre that has grown significantly over the last few years.
Another aspect I enjoyed about Thornton’s story was that it didn’t only revolve around zombies. The author offers a pretty graphic idea of how difficult life must be for a street kid and doesn’t spare us from the harsh realities that come along with it. That being said, if you’re looking for suspense then you’ve come to the right place; zombies are here, they’re awesome and they are totally taking over.
My only complaint would be that the book felt far too short. At 92 pages (it’s a novella after all), the it leaves you absolutely reeling and begging for more. Mercifully, there is more; Germination is the first of four in the Feast of Weeds series.
If you’re a fan of the YA genre and apocalyptic tales of the Walking Dead variety then read Germination – Feast of Weeds. ...more
Time travel stories tend to be a hit or miss for me however John Heldt’s The Mine manages to fall somewhere in the middle. I liked the premise of theTime travel stories tend to be a hit or miss for me however John Heldt’s The Mine manages to fall somewhere in the middle. I liked the premise of the novel and the quality of the writing was very good. My main issue is that I feel it needed more drama. Given the situation that the main character was thrown in, I was expecting a fair amount of conflict and chaos. The transition into Joel’s new life and every situation that he subsequently faced seemed to go a little too smoothly for the protagonist. Where is the terror at the realization that he’s just been sent nearly 60 years back in time? Where is the panic?
Overall, the characters were likeable enough. The standout for me was definitely Ginny, who had just the right amount of sass and candor to really bring the character to life. Personally, I believe that Heldt’s strong suit lies in his well developed description of the era. The world the author built made it easy to imagine what life was like in the early 40s.
Did I enjoy The Mine? Sure. Was it an edge of your seat page turner? Not quite. However it did have enough substance and redeeming qualities to make up for the aspects it lacked. Bonus; the twist at the end was absolutely brilliant.
Note: I received an ecopy of The Mine from the author John A. Heldt in exchange for an honest and unbiased review of the novel.
This book is different… in the absolute BEST way possible. In a literary world filled with sparkling vampires and bleak dystopian futures, Miller’s noThis book is different… in the absolute BEST way possible. In a literary world filled with sparkling vampires and bleak dystopian futures, Miller’s novel Keep from Falling is refreshingly unique. The characters are relatable and you quickly find yourself loving them despite their issues (and believe me when I say that they have many). Themes of trust, sexuality and self-discovery are explored throughout the novel in a very believable way and Miller skillfully avoids stereotypes. There are no lulls in this story. The drama begins from the very first page and the twists and turns definitely keep you on your toes all the way to the end. Saying that I couldn’t put it down is an understatement. Miller’s biggest strength (in my opinion) is her ability to write dialogue that feels completely real.
Miller’s work is a prime example of how great books aren’t always published through traditional publishing houses anymore. You got rejected by the literary agents you queried? Doesn’t matter. If your book is good, publish it anyway.
Keep from Falling is a solid debut from self-published author Amy Vanessa Miller and I eagerly look forward to reading more of her work in the future. ...more