Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The End of Refuge by Beth Martin

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

First Impression: I've never read a book about living in a bomb shelter that I recall, sounds scary.

Characters: Juliet is an innocent, literally sheltered young adult who comes of age amid the aftermath of conflict with North Korea. Her relationships and the supporting characters are realistic people with problems and charms like any of us.

World Building: There were moments of claustrophobia, which is not even something I struggle with in real life. While reading in bed I felt the walls close in and wondered what it might be like to never see the sun or feel its warmth on my face - to live in less than a square mile underground. What might that do to a person? The answer is many different things.

Writing Style: Martin's use of appropriate foreshadowing and answering questions as they unfold is comforting and like discussing a plot with a friend. I often wondered, "but what about this...?" only to be answered almost right away. The ending was satisfying yet unexpected, but I won't spoil the fun.

What I Enjoyed: The story really sparked for me around Avery and Juliet's relationship, as he shares his life story with her. From that point on I could barely put the book down as I wanted to know what became of these unlikely friends and the rest of the underground survivors.

Deal Benders: It takes about 10 chapters to really get into the story. I felt there could be less buildup to the main plot, or maybe a sideplot from another character's perspective. I was concerned for a bit, but after chapter 11 or so I was hooked on the story.

Overall Rating: 4 stars for an excellent last two thirds of the book.

For Fans Of: Anne Frank's Diary, Blast From the Past (movie with Brendan Fraser)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Everly (Everly #1) by Meg Bonney

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

First Impression: Nerdery, sign me up!

Characters: Maddy and Jason are snarky and brave for their age, while Ren throws a brooding yet loveable shadow on the group. Fae and other creatures of Everly have unique personalities and dialogue. There is a scene with witches reminiscent of Hocus Pocus.

World Building: I could easily imagine the world on the other side of the tree, but I would have liked more description expected in a fantasy series.

Writing Style: Bonney uses nerd references and sarcastic conversations to drive the plot along, which makes this series suitable for teen readers.

What I Enjoyed: References are always appreciated, much like finding Easter eggs. I enjoyed some of the fantasy creatures like trolls that the trio encounter on their journey.

Deal Benders: I struggled to connect with the narrative and dialogue. It's quite possibly a case of growing older. This story would be most relatable to young teens.

Overall Rating: 3 stars for an enjoyable frolick through a fantasy realm.

For Fans Of: The Guild by Felicia Day

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dissident by Nikki McCormack

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

First Impression: What a gorgeous cover and interesting premise! I want to learn more about this "ascard" power.

Characters: What I adored about each character in Dissident, is the full realization of personality. Every one is distinct and beautifully drawn. The real issues and struggles between chracters and their world will pull you in like somehow you're one of them. Spoiler****I almost fell in love with Yiloch myself, let alone as an interest for Indigo.****

World Building: I imagined a world somewhere between Middle Earth and a scene from Final Fantasy. Although not overly described, the sense of time and place are easy to discern.

Writing Style: The way McCormack pulls you into relationships is breathtaking. Everything from battle scenes to quiet moments is realistically developed.

What I Enjoyed: I didn't want this first book of the series to end! I want to know what happens to my new friends, and what new challenges await the realm. The ending gives the perfect sendoff for Forbidden Things #2.

Deal Benders: The only complaint I found was a slow beginning. Hang in there because about 1/3 through you won't want to put this book down.

Overall Rating: 4 stars. With a stronger start, this could be a 5 star series!

For Fans Of: Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon, The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Portal (Junction 2020 #1) by Carol Riggs

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

First Impression: Traveling through time or dimensions is an intriguing prospect.

Characters: I found the characters to be a bit flat in this first installment. Although younger readers might relate to the young characters in The Portal, older readers may struggle with the lack of development.

World Building: Riggs shines once she pulls you from the real world into her imagination. This is the second book I've read, and she really has a masterful way of painting a picture.

Writing Style: Middle grade level and large print make this a quick and easy read.

What I Enjoyed: I'm addicted to the author's imagination! From beautiful music scapes to scary creatures, I can't wait to see what Riggs comes up with next.

Deal Benders: The books starts off with too many adjectives, which bothered me for some reason. I was also annoyed that the main character thought about her dad's poor opinion of women way too often. Along this line the main character thinks about her dreams relating to the portal world to the point of obvious. I think once or twice as foreshadowing would have been appropriate.

Overall Rating: 3 stars because I enjoyed the story, but would like to see some of the deal benders worked out in the second installment.

For Fans Of: His Dark Materials, The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice in Wonderland

Construct 11 (Part 1) by Anna Lynn Miller

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

First Impression: I'm all in for the dark and dingy dystopian fiction. 

Characters: Watching Daniel awaken and question his sense of security seemed like coming up for air after diving into the water. I appreciate characters I can root for, and want to follow on their journey. 

World Building: I found myself intrigued, wanting to know more about the time before Construct 11. How did we get to this place? This is a great portend of things to come in the next book. The current world is bleak like in George Orwell's 1984. 

Writing Style: Miller creates a realistic future in a bunker that feels increasingly claustrophobic as the story progresses. This tension building makes me excited for the next book, as the characters start to question the world around them. 

What I Enjoyed: Renaming and shifting realities is exactly what a dystopian government would do. I liked the fresh voice among the flood in this genre.

Deal Benders: I would like it to be longer - mainly to explain a bit more of how things came to be as they are. Of course something is left to the imagination and future installments, but I think drawing the readers into the backstory a bit more would create more loyalty to the series. Especially the main characters, why should I care about them? 

Overall Rating: 4 stars for a fresh perspective and exciting introduction to this new world.

For Fans Of: The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, 1984

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