Thursday, October 19, 2017

4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace by Johan Twiss

** I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. **

First Impression: A paralyzed kid and a Jewish jazz musician - this sounds like it will get interesting. Also what a beautiful cover!

Characters: Aaron and Solomon become unlikely friends, and explore the connections possible across generations. Getting to watch Aaron grow through Solomon's wisdom was endearing and left me with that warm fuzzy feeling.

World Building: An imaginary world within the mind of a paralyzed teen unfolds alongside the dementia flashbacks of an old jazz musician. I haven't read anything quite like it.

Writing Style: Easy reading for all levels. I was able to read this entire book in a couple of days, and didn't want to put it down.

What I Enjoyed: Historical fiction mixed with a coming of age story is something I don't think has been done before! I want more stories that spark wonder and imagination.

Deal Benders: A bit too simplistic sometimes with dialogue and character behavior. Sometimes the story felt more like a fable than a narrative. I also did not fully understand the ending, and who exactly Aaron was in Solomon's timeline.

Overall Rating: 4 stars because I really enjoyed this story.

For Fans Of: Tuesdays with Morrie

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Lost Knight by Candy Atkins

** I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. **

First Impression: An adventure with the Grim Reaper and another realm? Yes please.

Characters: The main heroine is a believeable teenager, who develops at a reasonable pace throughout this first installment. Her companions and the troup of characters met on their travels remind me of a middle grade Lord of the Rings quest!

World Building: I am obsessed with the worlds within these pages, and can't wait to read the other books! Wonders abound in The Lost Knight - I was so sad when it ended.

Writing Style: Candy Atkins has a knack for writing to a wide audience. Very easy to read, while still enjoyable for the young at heart of all ages.

What I Enjoyed: I adored this book, especially the world and variety of characters. It is fully immersive.

Deal Benders: The only thing I would like to change is finding out how the relationships between characters further develop. I'm sure this will happen in the upcoming sequel.

Overall Rating: 5 stars! I want to live in these pages.

For Fans Of: The Lord of the Rings

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Lying Planet by Carol Riggs

** I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. **

First Impression: Another planet full of mystery, sometime in the future. Sounds intriguing.

Characters: Most of the characters are children and teenagers. No spoilers, but the adults in this society are unlike you can imagine. I really liked the heroes of this story, and cared about their journey.

World Building: The Lying Planet is gorgeous on the cover as well as inside its pages. I can easily imagine this becoming a film, and would like to see the technology and new home world come to life. 

Writing Style: Easy to read and well edited, this book flies by while leaving you wanting a sequel. Appropriate for all ages, which is difficult to find! 

What I Enjoyed: The imagination and new take on a dystopian society were refreshing. I read a lot of sci-fi / fantasy, so it's hard to find one I enjoy this much. From the technology to relationships, this book has well-rounded elements. Action, death, love, and many others.

Deal Benders: I can only think of one thing some readers might find wrong with The Lying Planet. If you're looking for enjoyable YA fiction, it's great. Older and more seasoned readers might scoff at its innocence, although I think that was part of the charm.

Overall Rating: 5 stars! This leaves you wondering what's beyond Earth, and feeling satisfied at the same time.

For Fans Of: Clean YA space sci-fi, which is tough to find!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Luney Tales by Bill Bowyer

** I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. **

First Impression: Short stories and a lunar cover, let's take a ride down the rabbit hole...

Characters: Each story centers around character interactions, except for the three at the end which are more of a futuristic documentary series. I was terrified of the children in "The Sandbox", as well as the boy from "The Ten Years". These stories will definitely unsettle how you look at someone crossing paths in the street.

Writing Style: Bowyer builds 'dark and twisty' in a way that makes you question where such thoughts originate. I get a similar feeling when reading Stephen King.

What I Enjoyed: Everything is believable yet out of this world. Short stories are easy to digest on the go, without forgetting what you read previously.

Deal Benders: The conclusions to the stories felt rushed, as if something more was supposed to happen. A couple were simply cliff hangers, which is acceptable, but others ended with pure confusion.

Overall Rating: 3 stars - I enjoyed these little dark tales.

For Fans Of: The Twilight Zone

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Beauty's Curse (Once Upon A Princess #1) by C.S. Johnson

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.*

First Impression: What a beautiful cover, and I adore fairy tale re-tellings!

Characters: Rose and Theo, Rose and Phillip, Rose and her many friends / subjects in the many winning combinations with appropriate complexity to each relationship.

World Building: Not much is shared about the world itself, but the characters and backstory drive the scene thus far.

Writing Style: Johnson has a wistful grace to her sentences that swept me off my feet. Very fairy tale approved.

What I Enjoyed: I like this better than the Disney version, and that means it's a great story! Admittedly, I pictured many of the characters as they appeared in the cartoon adaptation - while trying to imagine them as real people haha. I adore Rose's character, full of confidence and pride yet soft and humble. She takes the curse as a challenge to life instead of a reason to acquiesce.

Deal Benders: I'm a bit greedy, and would like more imagery to go with the wonderful plot and character development.

Overall Rating: 4 stars for a well done reimagined favorite. I can't wait to read the sequel, "Beauty's Quest"!
For Fans Of: Sleeping Beauty or any other Disney story, re-imagined with a feminist twist!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Breaking the Surface (The Surface Series #1) by Matt Hebert

*I received a copy of two books in this series from the author in exchange for an honest review.*
**I will be reviewing these two books together, as I feel they could have been edited into one.**

First Impression: Post-apocalyptic sub-aquatic living? Count me in!

Characters: I couldn't get past the character's ridiculous overuse of what I will dub 'aquatic lingo'. I'm all for trying to relate to the young adult crowd, but this felt forced. The characters didn't connect for me, even into the second book.

World Building: Having just finished twp excellent dystopian books from another series (check my page), I felt the world building in the Surface series thus far to be lacking. Besides a few interesting tech items, I didn't feel submerged. The beginning of the first installment drags on through a battle scene meant to be reminiscent of "Ender's Game", but reads more like an instruction manual for Blitzball in Final Fantaxy X for PS3.

Writing Style: I think Mr. Hebert has great potential as an author, and a great imagination. Unfortunately, over-describing every little detail can be just as bad as leaving the reader wanting more. I feel if these two first books were pared down into one it would be a much better first installment or standalone novel.

What I Enjoyed: I don't want to give the impression these are bad books, they're just not for me. If you want every detail handed to you on a silver platter this might be the series for you. Everything from character facial expressions and intonations is thoroughly described within. The premise and story elements are a great idea not fully realized.

Deal Benders: The weird lingo, over-descriptions, and slow pace made these books a miss for me. Again, I would like to see what the story would be like if combined into one novel.

Overall Rating: I give 2 stars because it was okay, but didn't strike me as something I had to keep reading. When you adore a book you can't wait to come back to it like a lover. Unfortunately, I must return to the surface and leave the Elephant's Guild behind.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Mountain of Shadows (City of Words #2) by Steven Carroll

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

First Impression: I really liked the first book, looking forward to seeing what happens to Alpha and his friends!

Characters: The hallmark of good character development is how much I end up caring about them as actual humans. I cried and was scared, was happy and hopeful, and rooted for my new friends throughout this second installment.

World Building: Fully realized dystopian is not easy, but Mountain of Shadows pulls it off. Without giving too much away, I could fully imagine the scenes unfolding in all their intensity.

Writing Style: Carroll weaves a story for all ages, with the natural ease of a true writer.

What I Enjoyed: Whenever I leave my surroundings and fall into the pages of a book, I know I've found a new favorite. The scene descriptions are palpable and the tech is believable, something I don't always feel in these kinds of books.

Deal Benders: I would like to see the relationship unfold between the main characters Alpha and Theta at this point in the series. I think the YA crowd calls for a bit of romance and hope to break up the bleakness. I would also like to know more about the "why" at this juncture. The inevitable part in every dystopian tale when we find out what made humanity turn on itself.

Overall Rating: 5 stars because it was far beyond the first book, and I wish book #3 was already out so I can see what happens!

For Fans Of: The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Giver