I received a copy of this book for an honest review.
Jubilee Year-A Novel is the story of what would happen if our sun had a long-lost twin that had been traveling the universe and was now on its way back home. And governments knew it but didn’t tell the populace. Elite saw it coming and were prepared for its happening but the general population was left on its own. In Jubilee Year Gerrard O’Neill gives us a taste of what happens when a few people discover the truth and try to survive the coming catastrophe.
18 years old Storm just wants to figure out what to do with his life while dating 22 years old Penny. Penny’s father is director of one of the most famous observatories in the world and thus in a position to see what’s happening in the solar system we live in. That knowledge throws Storm into an adventure he never expects as he gets caught up in protests, paramilitary groups, and a super-secret agent of the Australian government.
The relationships in the book are not bad. Although the Storm and Penny dynamic leaves something to be desired at times. The other connections in the book are pretty good with the exception of how a character named Darren turns out. I was a bit surprised about him and that seemed a little forced to me. I could see sort of why it was thrown in but maybe it could have been handled better, maybe not so rushed.
I don’t know science of the nature discussed in the book, but I don’t think you need to. It is all explained well and made you believe what is being stated. That’s what counts.
The main issues I had with the book were the head hopping within scenes where I couldn’t tell who was talking or thinking. And there are some proofreading issues that are evident. These two factors made reading not as enjoyable as it could have been.
Overall it was a good story idea, a quick read that kept you turning the pages to see what would happen next.
Rating and Recommendation:
I gave Jubilee Year-A Novel 3 out of 5 stars instead of a 4 because of the head hopping. It really took away from the flow of reading. The story itself is good and even being over 400 pages I read it in one day. So I do recommend the book for those who like the apocalyptic type of genre.
ISBN13: 978-0857534705 ASIN: B019CGXV08 Published: August 11th 2016 Pages: 348 Genre: YA, Survival, Action & Adventure
Sean Harker is good at two things: stealing cars and fighting. One earns him money, the other earns him respect from the gang that he calls family.
A police chase through the city streets is just another rite of passage for Sean . . . as is getting nicked. But a brutal event behind bars convinces him to take charge, and turn his life around.
Now he must put his street skills to the ultimate test: as a soldier in the British Army. And the battlefield is London, where innocent people are being targeted by a new and terrifying enemy.
Undercover, under threat – only Sean Harker can save the streets from all-out war.
Body of review:
Thanks to Net Galley and to Penguin Random House UK Children’s for providing with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first novel I’ve read by Andy McNab and I was intrigued by his foray into young adult writing and particularly by the main character. Sean Harker is a young boy (sixteen at the beginning of the novel) who loves cars and speed, whose life has been quite difficult, with no male role figure, a mother who has struggled through difficult and often violent relationships and he find his identity and his sense of self through his belonging to a gang. He ends up in prison and is given the opportunity to join the army and make good. Although at first it sounds to him as if he’d be betraying his friends, when one of those comes to a bad end, he rethinks his priorities. But not everything is plain sailing and old acquaintances and new temptations come his way.
The story is set in the UK (and it uses its location, and particularly London at the end, in a very effective and spectacular way), told in the third person, from the point of view of the young protagonist, Sean, who is street wise but not always good at fully appraising his circumstances or seeing the whole picture. He has his heart in the right place (he feels for his friends, is loyal and wants to protect his mother, and dislikes the racist and sexist comments of some of the other members of his unit) but he can be manipulated and influenced by those more experienced than him. Although the story does not go into psychological depths regarding Sean’s personality and thoughts, and it does not dwell in detail on his past, there is enough to make him sympathetic, and his reactions, doubts, mistakes and fears are all too recognisable and real. He is the small guy everybody tries to take advantage of, who doesn’t know whom he can trust, but he eventually finds his way.
There is plenty of action, including violence (and traumatic and sad events) and use of swearwords (although this is not extreme considering the genre), and the novel deals with difficult subjects throughout, including: suicide, extreme maiming and death of a teammate by bombing, terrorism, ultra-right politics, gang warfare, domestic violence, imprisonment… The pace is fast, fluid, and there’s not let down of tension and intrigue. It is a true page-turner, and although at times it seems about to go on a dangerous direction, it pulls it all together beautifully at the end. The protagonist is put to the test emotionally, physically and psychologically and although his reasons might be good (or so he thinks) he makes many mistakes. Thankfully he is given a second chance and he proves himself worthy of it.
At the end of the book the author identifies himself with the main character and explains that his life circumstances were quite similar to those of Sean Harker and how he was also given a chance and now he spends part of his time going to schools to spread the word. The character and McNab’s own story made me think of many young men I’d met in prison (when I worked as a forensic psychiatrist) whose lives and circumstances were not that different to those of the character depicted in this novel. I just hope they all have the chance, the opportunity and the will to make good too.
Street Soldier is a great read for young adults (and adults) who like action, a well-plotted book, full of tension and emotions. It also delivers a positive and wholesome message and I can see it turned into a successful TV series or an action film. I’m sure this won’t be the last of Andy McNab’s books I’ll read.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5 Made Me Think: 4.5/5 Overall enjoyment: 5/5 Readability: 5/5 Recommended: 4.5/5 Overall Rating: 5/5
Buy it at: Format & Pricing: Paperback: $7.78 Kindle: $ 14.09
Title: The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You Author: Lily Anderson ISBN13: 978-1250079091 ASIN: B017HNAHXW Published: Due out on 17th May 2016 Pages: 352
Genre: Young adult/ social and family issues/friendship (I’m not sure about the category used but…)
Trixie Watson has two very important goals for senior year: to finally save enough to buy the set of Doctor Who figurines at the local comic books store, and to place third in her class and knock Ben West–and his horrendous new mustache that he spent all summer growing—down to number four.
Trixie will do anything to get her name ranked over Ben’s, including give up sleep and comic books—well, maybe not comic books—but definitely sleep. After all, the war of Watson v. West is as vicious as the Doctor v. Daleks and Browncoats v. Alliance combined, and it goes all the way back to the infamous monkey bars incident in the first grade. Over a decade later, it’s time to declare a champion once and for all.
The war is Trixie’s for the winning, until her best friend starts dating Ben’s best friend and the two are unceremoniously dumped together and told to play nice. Finding common ground is odious and tooth-pullingly-painful, but Trixie and Ben’s cautious truce slowly transforms into a fandom-based tentative friendship. When Trixie’s best friend gets expelled for cheating and Trixie cries foul play, however, they have to choose who to believe and which side they’re on—and they might not pick the same side.
Stephanie Perkins meets 10 Things I hate About You in The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, a fresh, romantic debut from author Lily Anderson inspired by Much Ado About Nothing.
Body of review:
Much Ado About Nothing’ for YA in a school for gifted kids. A quick-fire delight.
Thanks to Net Galley and to St. Martin’s Griffin for providing me a free ARC copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
When I read this book was a modern take of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing for young adults I could not resist. It’s one of my favourite Shakespeare’s comedies and it’s had pretty good adaptations to screen. I am very partial to Ten Things I Hate About You and I hoped this would be as good if not better.
Told in the first person, this novel’s narrator is Trixie (Beatrix, of course), who is a fiercely intelligent and feisty shrew. She’s a geek, loves comic books, TV series (Dr Who among them), and attends a school for gifted youngsters, that is a fascinating ecosystem, with its own rules, its fights for top position and ranking, and it’s aristocracy (all based on merit, intelligence and hard work). Her two friends, Harper and Meg, are also very clever but very different to her in their unique ways (Harper, who is kind to a fault, lost her mother years back and her family life is fairly empty despite the money, and Meg’s psychologist parents seem to track any behaviours that might fit in some theory or other, and she is always trying to classify friends and actions around her as if they took place in a lab). Of course, there would be no school without boys, and Trixie has a long-term enmity with Benedict (Ben), who shares many of her hobbies and dislikes but who can’t open his mouth without aggravating her. Everybody but the two people involved know the pair are a perfect match, but making them see it proves a hard task. Students start getting suspended and they don’t realise at first that behind exams, essays, tests, balls and functions, there is somebody messing up with pupils’ results with dramatic consequences.
The characters are as clever as is to be expected from the school they attend, and at their age, they know everything. Their references to both pop culture and Culture with capital letters are flawless, witty and make for a great read. The dialogue is fast, clever, and funny (I must confess to laughing out loud quite a few times), and appropriate to the age of the characters. Although they are clever, they are also young, naïve, and at times very innocent and that makes them plausible teenagers. They are friends of their friends, they confront serious moral issues (for their age) and they are articulate, wholesome but sometimes mean.
I remember talking about a young adult book to a reader who told me he couldn’t remember having met girls as clever as the ones in the book. Well, I did, and although perhaps the interests might vary depending on the person and the era of our school years, I appreciate a young adult book where the young protagonists are clever, study, and care for each other. And are very funny too.
I thoroughly recommend this book to anybody who likes high-school young adult novels (I have no doubts adults will like it too), and I’m sure people who enjoy Shakespeare and pop culture references will have a field day. And I look forward to more books by the writer.
What the book is about: High school, studies, friendships, young love and a wonderful Shakespeare adaption for young adults.
Book Highlights: The geeky and pop culture references, the wit of the characters, a book about young people where they actually study, and wonderful and clever dialogue.
Challenges of the book: I think not many readers will get all the references, either high-brow or pop cultural ones, but I don’t think that will diminish the enjoyment of the story.
What do you get from it: A fun version of a Shakespeare comedy, where young people are intelligent, funny and friends of their friends.
What I would have changed if anything: I’m not sure of the category it’s included in, but other than that…
Who Would I recommend this book to?: I don’t think it’s necessary to be a fan of YA books to enjoy this novel. If you like the film ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’, I’d definitely recommend it. It made me laugh out loud and I can’t say that of many books.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 4/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 5/5 Readability: 4.5/5 Recommended: 5/5 Overall Rating: 5/5
Buy it at: Format & Pricing: Hard Cover: $10.79 Kindle: $9.99
Title: Desolation (The Demon Road Trilogy Book 2) Author: Derek Landy
ISBN13: 978-0008156985 ASIN: Published: Harper Collins Children’s Books (7th April 2016) Pages: 484 Genre: Teen and Young Adult, horror, adventure, fantasy
Description: THE EPIC NEW THRILLER CONTINUES.
Book two in the mind-blowing new supernatural thriller from bestselling author DEREK LANDY, creator of international sensation Skulduggery Pleasant.
Reeling from their bloody encounter in New York City at the end of Demon Road, Amber and Milo flee north. On their trail are the Hounds of Hell – five demonic bikers who will stop at nothing to drag their quarries back to their unholy master.
Amber and Milo’s only hope lies within Desolation Hill – a small town with a big secret; a town with a darkness to it, where evil seeps through the very floorboards. Until, on one night every year, it spills over onto the streets and all hell breaks loose.
And that night is coming…
Body of review:
More fascinating characters, a tiny bit of romance, and Alaska, but less of a road trip.
Thanks to Harper Collins Children’s Books and to Net Galley for offering me a free copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review.
I read Demon Road recently, loved it and was keen to know what happened next. The first novel was a ride, a succession of adventures along the demon road and there were many stories that I felt would have made great books in their own right.
The second book in the series is about Desolation Hill in Alaska, the only place where Amber and Milo think they might be safe from the hounds of hell that are after them. The novel is less of a road trip (they get there fairly quickly even if finding the actual place seems difficult, we later get to know why) and more of a novel about a town that hides many secrets and is much darker than it might appear at first sight. Amber is still trying to grow up and get to grips with the fact that she’s a demon through no fault of her own, and she still has her parents trying to find her (and now, instead of eating her they want to take her back to the Shining Demon). We still see things from her point of view. But there are many changes.
The story is not only different in the setting, but also in the way it is told. There are other character’s points of view that come into play. I particularly like Virgil, and elderly man who used to star in a TV programme in the seventies (where he was the hero, an avenger type with mask and all), who is later joined by Javier, the actor who used to play his old archenemy. Their interaction is funny, but also poignant and touching at times. There are also a group of fairly young people (and a dog) who hunt demons and evil in its many forms. They jokingly refer at times to Scooby-Doo, and with the dog (Two) and their van there is a certain similarity, although not in the details. We also see the story from their perspective at times and we get the sense that there are many stories (that like Kelly’s tattoos might deserve more screen, or page, time) behind them and ahead of them. The Demon Road throws interesting people together, for sure.
Amber becomes stronger, more determined, and comes up with daring plans and decisions that don’t always bring the expected results (hardly ever). But she’s still vulnerable and her self-esteem when she’s in human form is poor. It is refreshing to see that at least one person she meets thinks she is cooler in human form and does not find her attractive as a demon. Her relationship with Kelly hints at the possibility of a romance but as we well know the path of true love is never a smooth one.
I thought the alternative points of views helped show Amber under a different perspective, more ambiguous, and helped ground the story. On the other hand, I missed the road trip part of it. There are plenty of interesting characters, some from the town and some outsiders, and there is plenty of action. To be truthful, when the festival arrives (I won’t explain what it consists of but yes, I’m happy I’ve never been to one) the action speeds up to such a level that sometimes I found it difficult to keep up. More than a page turner it becomes a hurricane.
The novel ends in a big twist that seems to throw the action in a completely different direction and makes us question once again what kind of person/demon Amber will turn out to be in the end. I definitely want to know.
I would advise anybody considering reading this book to start by reading Demon Road. Although the action might be understood if read alone, and there are clues along the way, some of the nuances and the backstory greatly enhance the overall effect (and some props, like the key used at times are a legacy from previous adventures).
There are things I like better in this book, and things I like better in the first, but I get the sense that the series has been conceived as a whole and it will all fit in together nicely (or nastily, considering the genre) by the end. We shall see. I’ll be waiting for the third one (and it seems it’s only a few months to go).
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy paranormal and horror adventures with plenty of action and characters that are morally ambiguous.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5 Readability: 4.5/5 Recommended: 4.5/5 Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Title: Demon Road (The Demon Road Trilogy, Book 1) Author: Derek Landy ISBN13: 978-0008156923 ASIN: B00UF812T0 Published: January 1st 2016 Harper Collins Pages: 512 Genre: Teen and YA Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Adventure
The epic new thriller begins.
The creator of the number one best-selling Skulduggery Pleasant series returns with the story of a girl on the run from everything she loves…and the monsters that await her.
For anyone who ever thought their parents were monster…Amber Lamont is a normal 16-year-old. Smart but insecure, she spends most of her time online, where she can avoid her beautiful, aloof parents and their weird friends.
But when a shocking encounter reveals a horrifying secret, Amber is forced to go on the run. Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers and red skinned, horned demons – Amber hurtles from one threat to the next, revealing the terror woven into the very fabric of her life. As her parents close in behind her, Amber’s only chance rests with her fellow travellers, who are not at all what they appear to be….
Witty, action-packed and heart stoppingly thrilling, Demon Road will take you on an epic road trip across the supernatural landscape of America.
Body of review:
A road trip, a quest and a coming of age story to hell and back
Thanks to Net Galley and to Harper Collins Children’s Books for offering me a free copy of the novel in exchange for an unbiased review.
Demon Road is a coming of age novel of sorts. Amber, the protagonist, is sixteen and discovers that her parents, whom she’s always known weren’t exactly ordinary, are demons and so are their friends, and now she’s started turning too. Worse still, they’re determined to eat her to comply with the terms of a deal they made with the Shining Demon in exchange for power (not that they are particularly sorry about that). With the help of one of her parent’s friends, who’s decided the demonic lifestyle is no longer for her, Amber sets off on a journey to try and save herself by making her own deal. She travels in a car that’s not quite what it seems, with Milo, a bodyguard/chauffer that isn’t what he seems either. The novel follows them in their journey through the different stages of their trip, investigating the many clues, trying to find the one individual who might hold the secret to solving her problem.
Demon Road is also a road trip. The protagonist and her team (Milo and Glen, another character who’s also made a rather stupid deal and has ended up lumbered with a death mark) travel through the Demon Road of the title, a supernatural route linking strange beings, places and happenings, where everybody knows more than they say and people are never who they seem to be. The adventures Amber and her friends/associates (the relationships are open to interpretation) get into are fascinating and varied, going from towns haunted by supernatural serial killers, others with vampires gone out of control, a witch in love in the depths of a forest, winged creatures in New York, and lots of hiding and fighting. Any of the adventures they get involved in would make a great story in its own right and they ensure the plot keeps moving along at a good pace and never gets boring.
Demon Road is a quest. Amber makes a deal which results in her having to look for the only person who’s ever managed to trick the Shining Demon. Every stage of her quest brings her in contact with people, both human and supernatural beings, which have an impact on her and how she sees the world. She also has to come to terms with her new self and not all she learns is positive. As a hero (or heroine) she’s flawed. She can be compassionate and human, and the next minute act on impulse and hurt somebody. She can be quite clever at times and make stupid mistakes at others. She’s easy to anger and lacking in self-confidence but she can be magnificent. She’s not an immediately likeable character although her sense of humour and her capacity for self-reflection make her interesting. Like in all quests, the main character’s search becomes a search for her true self.
Because of all these things, and although the overall pace of the book is reasonably fast, it can feel uneven. It is composed of a number of set pieces interconnected by the trip resulting in a fair amount of telling rather than showing, as they always come upon places or events that have to be explained and grasped, and things slow down at that point and then accelerate when the action comes. Some of those episodes feel more rushed than others (for me the episode with the witch didn’t seem to quite fit in with the time allocated to it, and the bonding between the women and Amber seemed too fast, considering the amount of time they were together. On the other hand I loved the idea and the concept of that story) as if the clock counting down Amber’s time to complete her mission would speed up and slow down. Although it’s true that time is relative and the story is told from a subjective perspective…
The book is written in the third person although it follows Amber’s character and we get her insights and point of view. The writing is dynamic and easy and despite its length, the novel is a quick read.
We have very little information about most of the characters, although that’s in keeping with Amber’s point of view, and it helps us share her feelings, emotions, confusion and attempts at making sense of what’s going on. Milo and his relationship with his car is very intriguing and, at least for me, one of the big successes of the novel. We get some hints of his story but I get the feeling there’s much more to come. Glen might be a divisive one that some readers might love and others hate. I found him at times annoying but at others endearing. Although there are some characters that don’t seem to have any redeeming qualities, most of them are grey rather than black or white, and I thought that added to the complexity of the book and gave it a touch of realism.
There isn’t a love story (at least not so far) and although that might put some readers of the genre off, I didn’t mind so much. The ending is both an ending and it sets off the stage for the next chapter in the story.
In sum this is a novel that packs a lot of stories into a single book, with characters that are interesting if not immediately likeable, and although not perfect, it’s a great read. I’m looking forward to the next book.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 4/ 5 Made Me Think: 3.5/5 Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5 Readability: 4 /5 Recommended: 4.5/5 Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Meet YA Fantasy author Michelle Madow and watch as she reads from ELEMENTALS 1: THE PROPHECY OF SHADOWS. Then get to know her as she poses a fun trivia question. Be sure to leave a comment to enter the giveaway for a signed paperback of the same.
Summary: Witches are real. They’re descendants of the Olympian gods. And now, five witches gifted with elemental powers must fight to stop a war against the Titans.
When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly… she’s apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers — and, to her dismay, by Blake — the school’s notorious bad-boy.
Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle’s wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.
When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious elemental powers. But the comet has another effect — it opens the portal to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monster escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it’s up to them and the others to follow the clues from a cryptic prophecy so that they can save their town… and possibly the world.
Haley Farrell is taking a chance on herself. After earning her interior design certificate, she quits her retail job and opens a decorating business. But starting her own company may be tougher than she first thought. Just as Haley’s first assignment gets underway, she suddenly finds herself as the prime suspect in a murder investigation. What’s worse, the victim is Haley’s best friend and mentor, Marge Norwalk.
Reeling from Marge’s death, Haley soon realizes that the only way to prove her innocence is to find the real murderer. Before long, Haley is collecting clues and suspects like other designers collect paint chips and fabric samples. But will contractor Dutch Merrill and detective Lila Tsu be swayed by her investigative talents? Or will she be the one punished for this perfectly designed crime?”`-Amazon
Forbidden Mind Karpov Kinrade “From USA Today bestselling author Karpov Kinrade comes an award-winning series full of romance and page-turning suspense. She reads minds. He controls minds. Together, they might get out alive. I’ve seen into the minds of killers and have crawled into the darkest mental corners of humanity, but even I wasn’t prepared for this. I thought that when I turned 18 I would be released from my secret school of paranormal spies and free to follow my dreams and make my own life. That’s what we all thought. Until I met Drake. Everything changed when I linked minds with the blond-haired boy strapped to that gurney. In my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined the dangerous truth behind my life. And now time is running out. We must work together to save ourselves and everyone we love. Before it’s too late. “…a thrilling, dark and deeply romantic read that had me sitting on the edge of my seat and eagerly awaiting the next installment.” ~ Refracted Light Young Adult Book Reviews Winner of 2011 Forward National Literature Award”-Amazon
Samson’s Deal Shelley Singer “Library Journal said: “Great bar scenes, a wonderfully wry narrative, and the obvious affection between Jake and Rosie will have readers clamoring for more.” MURDER, POLITICS, AND STRANGE BEDFELLOWS… Samson’s Deal is the FIRST cozy mystery in the Jake Samson and Rosie Vicente detective series by award-winning author Shelley Singer.
“Singer has a good ear for dialogue among the witless … It’s fun to watch [Jake and Rosie] work together, and the bad guys eventually get their satisfying comeuppance, after an interesting plot twist that keeps things hopping till the very end.” —San Francisco Bay Guardian
Ex-Chicago-cop Jake Samson is tired of the rat race. He’s living in laid back Oakland, California with a couple of cats and just enough savings to eat canned oysters and accept collect calls from his bemused parents, when an old friend–a progressive political science professor–calls with an enticing offer. Seems the professor’s wife was found dead in the backyard of their Berkeley home, and he wants to pay Jake ten thousand dollars (plus expenses) to figure out whodunit.
The police pick up the usual leads; jealousy, dirty politics, and an estate worth killing for. Naturally, since the professor is the dead woman’s spouse, he’s the primary suspect. Samson doesn’t like the guy much, but the case heats up—quite literally—when the professor’s office is set afire by a radical right wing activist group, of which, it turns out, the wife was a member.
With his good friend Rosie, and her justice-dispensing two-by-four, Samson follows a twisted trail that leads through the Bay Area’s bizarre cultural labyrinth, from pop meditation ashrams to neo-Nazi rallies, to the startling but all too human truth.
“A fast-paced and often frightening look at the insidious attraction of the extreme right. Even though most of those drawn to the group may be on the lower end of any IQ chart, their sense of dedication to the mistaken idea that they possess a genetic and racial superiority is enough to make them very dangerous. This Shelley Singer novel is recommended.” -Bookbrowser
“…one of the nicer guys in the private eye business, who operates in a relaxed, casual style without need for macho posturing.” -Washington Post
WHO WILL LIKE IT: Fans of Parnell Hall’s Stanley Hastings series, Tony Dunbar’s Tubby Dubonnet series, Bill Pronzini’s “Nameless” Detective series, Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone series, Susan Dunlap’s Jill Smith series, Julie Smith’s Rebecca Schwartz series … and vintage TV series like COLUMBO, THE ROCKFORD FILES, HARRY O, MAGNUM, and HAWAII FIVE-O.
Shelley Singer is the author of ten mysteries, two science fiction novels, one mainstream fiction, and many short stories.”-Amazon
This review is a bit special but I wanted to share it with you precisely for that reason. I reviewed an early version of this book that was offered through Net Galley before its publication and I was later contacted by the publishers’ (Blue Moon Publishers) PR Department who asked me if I’d read and review the revised version. I decided to share both reviews with you because I felt I had learned from the experience, both as a reader and as a writer.
Early ARC version review.
Nirvana by J.R. Stewart. Virtual reality, bees, grief and politics
Thanks to the publishers (Blue Moon Publishers) and to Net Galley for the gift of an advance copy of this book. I have read that it is undergoing major revisions, so it might be that some of the issues mentioned are no longer there if you get the final edition.
Nirvana, despite the name, is a dystopian Young Adult novel. It is set in a future where bees have disappeared and nature as we know it has gone; there are a few places left where people live (the novel takes place in Canada, around Toronto, although there are hints throughout the book that the situation might be slightly different in other places), and the Hexagon (yes, I know) controls “security” (read intrudes in everybody’s privacy, destroys all books and keeps a tight hold on everybody’s activities, words and imagination). Larissa, a young woman whose husband (a very talented scientist) disappeared during a mysterious mission six months ago is not ready to accept his death and refuses to let go.
The novel mostly focuses on Larissa, although the third person point of view sometimes shares the thoughts of other characters, like the Corporal, Serge (a childhood friend of Larissa’s), the psychologist…but not consistently and sometimes it seems to hide things, and we also get letters, documents, etc. The time-line can be somewhat challenging at times as Larissa can flicker between memories (how she met Andrew, her husband, their time at university, some of her musical gigs, her childhood memories including some very dark ones) and things that are happening at the time of the action of the novel, when she is being pressurised by the authorities to sign a document acknowledging that Andrew is death. Although this is how our mind works, sometimes it’s not easy to tell the difference until you get to the next change in perspective. Perhaps a different type of letter or a break would make it easier. I also found the fact that many characters have similar names (all beginning with K, I’m not sure why) made me go back and forth to make sure.
The description of Larissa’s psychological state and emotions is accurate for somebody suffering from a grief reaction (even if in her case she has no real proof that her husband is dead). She feels guilty, angry, sad, confused and doubts constantly about what to do. Her family circumstances were already complicated and she does not know if her sister is alive or not and it’s not difficult to understand that she’d be reluctant to let go of the one bit of family she had left. We might lack outside perspective on her and know little about her previous personality so it’s difficult to get a full picture of the character but this will probably build over time.
I am not an expert in science-fiction but I know world-building can be one of the main strengths of these novels. After reading the author’s biography I understand why the parts that deal with virtual reality (the Bubble, that is where the crème of society live, in a fake world of their choosing, and Nirvana, that is the low-key version that workers might access, but in small doses) are very strong and mind-boggling, even scarily so. By contrast, the descriptions of the rest of the world are very succinct and only much later, when the point of view returns to some of the characters in positions of authority, we get to know a bit more about the world order, but this is more tell than show (although that is one of the difficulties with the genre, maintaining the balance between trying to make the story come alive whilst at the same time leaving something to the readers’ imagination).
The idea behind the politics of that world reminded me of 1984 (the level of intrusion into people’s lives is greater than even insiders realise), and the conspiracy theorists will “enjoy” the implications of some of the things uncovered and suggested towards the end of the novel. They throw an even darker light on the authorities and put into question loyalties and certainties. The comments about the interests behind big funding for scientific research and how those dictate the direction human progress takes made me pause and gave me cause for concern. (Having studied Medicine this is a thing we’re always aware of).
I found the brief discussions on physics and even music theory fascinating, but might not be to everybody’s taste, especially younger readers interested mainly in the characters.
I found the overall story engaging, although the surprise at the end was hinted at and most readers are likely to have guessed it by then, but it is a good twist and it leaves room for much more to come.
This is perhaps a novel that does not fit in comfortably within the YA category, but I think it’s a series worth keeping an eye on, as there are interesting plot lines, characters with plenty of hidden agendas and room for development, and a whole world (or worlds) that we’ve only glimpsed. And virtual reality as you haven’t seen it yet. Ah, and don’t forget to read the writer’s biography. It will make you very uneasy…
Nirvana by J. R. Stewart. Revised version and revised review. Still about bees, and virtual reality, less grief and politics.
Thanks to the publishers (Blue Moon Publishers) and Net Galley for providing me with a new copy of the revised version of the novel.
Let me explain why I’m reviewing this novel for the second time. Nirvanawas gifted to reviewers in Net Galley and it garnered many reviews. I was one of the people who downloaded it and reviewed it over the late summer and published a review, aware that the book would not be published officially until later. The site offers you a chance to be kept informed or contacted by publishers with news about the authors and I said I’d be interested. I had a member of the PR department for the publishing company contact me and ask me if I’d be interest in reading the revised version. I was curious and they obliged and sent me the book.
It took me a while to get around to it but when I did I was surprised by how much it had changed. Rather than a revision it was a full rewrite. The story is about a dystopian future where the bees have died, and with them most of the plants and animals. The ‘Hexagon’ controls everybody’s lives, food and entertainment have become big businesses, and virtual reality is the only way people can experience life as it was, but this is also monitored, and very expensive. The really rich can live in a virtual reality paradise, called The Bubble, and there are several in different countries (although the story is set in Canada, near Toronto). Nirvana is the virtual reality system where the protagonist (Larissa Kenders) works and it has been created in its majority by her live-in boyfriend Andrew. Andrew disappears and the authorities tell Kenders he is dead. But he keeps appearing to her whilst she is in Nirvana, and although initially she thinks he is just a virtual reality creation, soon she realises that’s not the case. The rest of the book becomes her attempt at following the clues he gives her to retrieve something hidden but very important to the future of humanity whilst trying to remain alive. It’s difficult to know who she can trust and there are traps and conspiracies everywhere.
The novel now fits more neatly within the YA/NA dystopian genre. The story is told only from the point of view of the protagonist, Larissa Kenders, and in the first person present. It is told chronologically, and that avoids some of the confusion of the previous version. It also allows for a closer identification with the main character, and the reader gets to know more about her, about her activism and how her music was always socially conscious (even if she later realises things weren’t as she thought and she might have been playing into the hands of the big corporations). She is younger than in the previous book, although I wasn’t clear of the timeframe, as she’s supposed to be still 17, bus she has been engaged in campaigns in the past, is a famous singer, and has known Andrew, studied at university and visited many places with him before the Earth became practically a desert. It’s true though, that it falls with the genre’s convention that young protagonists seem to have lived several normal lives by the time we get to meet them.
It is easier to empathise with Kenders in this version and we also get to see more of her relationship with Andrew before he disappears. There are bad characters clearly delineated, some heroic ones (more so because doubts were cast upon them), and a more optimistic outlook. It ends with a big hook and the chase starts again, as it should in a series.
Sadly I missed what I had noted in my first review as perhaps not fitting in the genre. I liked the disquisitions about physics and musical theory that have not disappeared, and there is much less emphasis on the politics and funding of research (it is mentioned, but in passing). Perhaps the author will write, at some point, the book that according to her biographical note she had thought of writing, looking at the truth hidden behind the virtual reality industry and research. I’ll be waiting.
In summary, this is solid YA book, with romance, angst, chases, mystery, a strong, talented and intelligent female character, and an interesting world with a strong ecological theme and a warning. Look after the bees and the Earth before all you have left is just a holographic image and your memories.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5 Made Me Think: 4.5/5 Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4/5
It’s time to welcome our newest member to the LitWorldInterviews Team and Family. Sierra Boone! @SierraJBoone
Unlike the rest of the team, who I met online, Sierra and I actually know each other personally. A former student in the school system I worked in, until I had an in-home accident and suffered a concussion and severe complications, she’s now a friend, in college student for some time now, a genius since birth, and lover of all things literature probably since someone began reading to her or she tasted her first book cover in the crib, as in baby crib, not celebrity homes.
LitWorldInterviews has become something I never expected. People actually request we review their books and we needed help. Me being the one who created the site and recruited everyone else, am the one recruiting now. Sierra is the beginning of that process. I am wanting more.
It dawned on me what better way to serve a great deal of the authors out there than to introduce a young Book Reviewer who loves;
Oh, and of course she loves the Classics.
Why is Sierra my first to ask to join in this new round of recruitment to expand our services and take us to a new level? I know who she is and what she is. I know she is the young woman I saw immersing herself in those acting roles on the stage. She was the one people knew had it when it came to the classes. She took the hard courses, not the easy outs to keep a good Grade Point Average. She attained that GPA with the hard courses.
Why is she here and the first I asked? Because I respect and admire her. She works for everything she has as a student. (And I saw her update her status on facebook and thought, hey why not Sierra.)
When I asked her and we discussed it a bit she said it was funny how in school when I covered a class she was in, we had conversations and some of those were about books. I guess I was setting her up then before I even knew what WordPress was. She is mature beyond her years with an appreciation for the Classics in all aspects, not just literature, but movies, acting, everything.
To request a Review from Sierra click here to go to her Author page here on the LWI site and fill out the form. For other team members go to their Author pages (In the black box on the left of the site and in white text.) and either follow to their sites for forms or fill out the Book Review Submissions form here.
As I said, I am still looking for Book Reviewers. Why? My health is not the best. I can’t keep up with what I have now, and I hate saying no to people. Rather than damage the reputation of this site the Team has worked so hard to build, I decided to bite the bullet and ask for help. If you know me, you know I can’t stand asking for help. I feel as though it is a burden I am putting on others. But the authors, the Indie Authors, come first, not my pride. If you have read the book reviews here, you know what I am looking for in maturity and professionalism. Email me at ronovanwrites @ gmail.com if you know me and are interested or you have someone you know very well and can vouch for.
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This is a story of love lost and found, of second chances.
Emma and Corbin – teenage sweethearts, first loves. Corbin finally found someone who believed in and supported him, despite his somewhat cavalier attitude to life and the sadness that permeated it. In Corbin, Emma experienced what it was to have someone truly see her, her ‘wildness’. Their love seemed impenetrable, that is until disaster struck on the eve of Corbin’s marriage proposal to Emma.
The lovers are separated by time and space yet they are never far from each other even as they moved on with their lives, or at least Emma appeared to have. When another twist of fate caused them to confront the reality of their love.
This is not YA romance. It is much more as I am taken from Emma’s and Corbin’s teen to mature years – their voices sounding through the years as they wrestle with the dilemmas of,
Does true love exist? Can one ever know for certain? Is it worth sacrificing a life for? Does one follow one’s heart or mind? Does one stay true to oneself yet betray another? Is it impulsive to abandon a happy comfortable life for a dream? Is it too late for second chances?
Ultimately, what price truth, peace or love?
Would I recommend it?
‘Voice of Innocence’ is a book with mature themes yet handled skilfully. Once began, it was hard to put down as I was hooked into discovering ‘why’.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel as it moves from moments of fairytale-like happiness and joy to harsh realities and great despair. Detwiler’s deft hands in portraying characters with depth made connecting with them easy.
I wonder, will there be another book for Emma and Corbin? If there is, I most certainly will not miss it.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5 Made Me Think: 3.5/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating:4/5
Price: FREE (Click the Book Cover for your Kindle Copy at Amazon! And HERE for the UK!)
Genres:Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance, Drama
Languages:English and SpanishAvailable.
Pink is a smart, mature teenager. Is Pink her real name? Well that’s something in the book, now isn’t it? I didn’t read this book to do a review at first. I just read it because Olga, yes, Olga the LWI team member wrote it. She didn’t know I had read it until I had finished it and told her how much I liked it. She didn’t ask for a review. But if you like a book, review it, right?
I mean the price was right. FREE. I love a free book. And it’s still FREE. Angelic Business 1. Pink Matters is about high school senior Pink and her extremely odd relationship with a couple of angels. Okay, one angel might, just might be a fallen angel. Pink deals with everything else a normal high school girl has to deal with. Let me count the ways. Idiot best guy friend. Girl friends who are in their own worlds and of course have their own ideas about what Pink should do about boys.
Pink is smarter than they realize. She has her head on straight and her eyes on the prize. Then in walks the angels, or floats, or pops.
I’m being somewhat cavalier with this review because I enjoyed it so much I don’t want to go overboard with praise for the story itself. But there are areas that drew my attention away from being able to stay lost in the world of the story. The scene is west coast USA, but there is often very much British phrasing. This goes as far as to some basics of USA culture not coming off quite right. (I try avoid saying American culture because there are so many American countries that I see it as almost rude to commandeer the word.) But once you take those instances into stride then you can drift away.
As a book reviewer, even when reading this as a reader, I could not help but notice those moments and they did give me pause each time. I think as someone from the USA they gave me pause, not just the book reviewer part.
Did it ruin it for me? I bought the other two books in the trilogy. Yes, I BOUGHT books. I don’t have money, but I could afford the slight bit they did cost. I NEEDED to know what happened next. Of course now, alas, I am broke again. Once you see the prices at Amazon when you visit her author page you will be amazed at my poor standing.
The story in the next two books are very good, and the final is excellent for certain, with one weird twist thrown in there. There are some proofreading issues in those two books, especially the final one, as of my readings, but I have mentioned these to Olga. The first book in regards to typos was very nice. A very clean read.
Honestly the only thing I can find at fault with the first book is the British phrasing. I still enjoyed all three books.
There were some interesting views about Heaven and Hell and God’s role in things. What demons are and what choices they make. Being a person of faith I of course wanted to know where Olga would go with this and the twists and turns were . . . as I said, interesting. And above all made a great deal of sense in their own way and moved the story along and gave the story a purpose.
I would recommend this book to just about any age. Olga handles several issues very well, with a thoughtful approach in considering her readers. There were many things I think young women/girls, as well as boys, could learn from this book about self-identity.
The scoring below is for the first book.
Character Believability: 4 Flow and Pace: 3.5 Reader Engagement: 3.5 Reader Enrichment: 4 Reader Enjoyment: 4 Overall Rate: 3.8
With the British phrasing and USA cultural aspects taken care of three of the five categories would have been higher. Click the Book Cover to go to Amazon for your Free Kindle copy at Amazon. And HERE for the UK!
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From the Author
After reading several exciting YA books I had an idea for a series. I wrote the first book and started publishing some of my other books. Over the last 3 years I wrote the other two books in the series and became more and more fascinated by the subject of angels, realising that there are sculptures, works of art, books, movies… everywhere. So I’m finally adding my own. I hope you enjoy them. And don’t forget to check the other two books in the series!
About the Author
Writer, translator, psychiatrist, fitness enthusiast, recently converted to mindfulness, avid reader and reviewer, lover of movies, plays and owls, I’m originally from Spain but have lived in the UK for over twenty years. I write in all kinds of genres and also read in a variety of them.
Always happy to connect with readers and other writers.
Ronovan is an author, and blogger who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com.
Genre: YA, Children’sFantasy, Children’s Literature, Young Adult (8-15), Children’s Adventure
*A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review, which follows.
One night, Alex Bascolme awakened from a dream, so real that he could smell the salt in the air from the ocean along the California coast. He could even feel the sand squishing between his toes, as if he stood on the beach that night. The strange dreams continued after that first night, leaving Alex to wonder what they could mean for him. When Alex’s Father was laid-off from work, Alex and his family moved from Colorado to California; the dreams apparently foretelling his true destiny.
Once in California, Alex meets a new friend named Logan, and the two boys find a magical motorcycle that takes them on the ride of their lives. Only the worthy can ride the bike, and both boys are tested to see who has the “right-stuff” to ride Silver Lightning. Eventually the boys realize that there is always a heavy price to pay for the use of magic, even if it is for the good of humanity.
I was immediately drawn into Alex’s magical world, where his dreams of a dark eyed, black haired girl named Tsura, lead him on a journey into manhood, learning the difficulties of life first hand through his experiences with Silver Lightning. I love the relationship that developed between the mysterious, Tsura and Alex. In addition, the bond between Alex and Logan reinforces everything strange and wonderful that two best friends can share. I laughed, and cried, cheering the boys onward in their adventures.
The only challenge of the book in my opinion, is the dialog is to perfect between the characters. I would have loved to see a bit more teenage angst and realism in the words spoken by the teens. Nevertheless, the story is full of sweet memories and life lessons, which took me back to the years of my youth when magic was real.
I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures of the magical motorcycle, Silver Lightning, and the interaction each boy had realizing the power of goodness that existed within each of their hearts. Silver Lightning would appeal to both younger children from ten years old through fifteen years of age. Adults would enjoy reading the book with their younger children.
Silver Lightning is Wendy Darling’s debut novel. I am excited for a sequel to follow the boy’s adventures with the magical motorcycle. I cannot wait to find out what happens next!
RATINGS Realistic Characterization: 3/5 Made Me Think: 3/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 4/5 Recommended: 4/5 Overall Rating: 4.0
Title: The Dystopian Nation of City-State: An Anthology: Origin, Corruption, and Rebellion
Author: Courtney James, Kaisy Wilkerson-Mills
Published: 20th Nov 2014
Genre: Science-Fiction, YA (12 to 18)
I must confess this is not my usual kind of book, and I read it as it were by mistake. I have a long list of books to read, organised (?) according to how pressing the reviews are (I review for a digital magazine, also in Netgalley, and for a literary blog apart from sharing in my own blog and in a variety of places) and I got confused. When I realised this was not the next book on my list, I’d read around 70% of it so I couldn’t see much point in switching over. And I was gripped by the story/stories of this strange futuristic universe.
This is an episodic book, a collection of scenes and snippets, that can result a bit jarring when reading, but the whole picture of this dystopian future that is created through the variety of accounts and scenes becomes an almost coherent (and pretty scary) whole.
Not being a big sci-fi reader, I didn’t particularly miss the technological detail (although I think good aficionados might have something to say about buildings 200 storeys high. I loved the idea of an Olympus space-floating island where only the elite could live. I can imagine the technological challenge) whilst I happily connected with some of the darkest aspects of the story, like the strange cult that requires human sacrifices, the extremes of social prejudice and classification (that reminded me of Huxley’s A Brave New World) and the extremely corrupt politics.
The language was very simple and I thought the book could have benefited from another pair of eyes on the proofreading, editing stage, but the typos did not become distracting. It was an easy read although some people might appreciate more detail regarding descriptions of the layers of the world and the new technology. Considering the book is listed as for ages between 12 and 18 it probably pitches at the right level.
I’m not sure if there are plans for carrying on writing the series, but I felt with a bit more work connecting the episodes, there is very good material and fascinating ideas to get imaginations fired up. And as happens with the best dystopias, it makes one think about our world today.
It might be too fractured for some readers, but if you approach it with an open mind and are interested in dystopias and exploring possible future scenarios, there’s much to enjoy in this book.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 3.5/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 4/5 Readability: 3.5/5 Recommended: 3.5/5 Overall Rating: 4/5
Buy it at: Amazon Format & Pricing: e-book Paperback: Kindle: $2.06
Title: The Scent of Lilacs (The Heart of Hollyhill #1) Author: Ann H. Gabhart ISBN: 978-0800730802 ASIN: B007TV0OMM Published: May 1st 2005 by Revell (first published January 1st 2005) Pages: 352 Genre: Christian/Historical Fiction, Women’s fiction
What the book is about: At 13 years old, Jocie Brooke learns the true meaning of faith and the love of family when her sister Tabitha, suddenly returns after fleeing their home in Hollyhill, Kentucky with their mother many years ago. It is 1964, and Jocie’s divorced father, preacher David Brooke, and his Great Aunt Love, strive to care for Jocie with kindness and affection. Aunt Love struggles to keep her senility in check, as the family struggles with a past that threatens to engulf them. All is not what it seems in this quiet small town, as deep secrets surface to lead the family on a quest that leads them to many unforeseen truths.
Book Highlights: As the secrets of the past come to light, it was a joy for me to watch the inner workings of a faith based family deal with the realities of their past choices, good and bad. All the characters were realistic and believable in the way they dealt with their emotions while their lives unraveled around them. It was easy to empathize with the trials the family endured through the years. I found myself drawn to the characters and the story. I did not want the book to end. I was ecstatic to learn that this book is part of a series by Ann Gabhart.
Challenges of the book: I had no challenges with the characters within the story. The Christian elements in the book were tasteful and authentic. Ann Gabhart channels her own knowledge of small town life centered on a strong Christian church element making the characters realistic and credible. These characters could be your neighbors.
What do you get from it: Love, family, and faith combined can conquer the troubles of the world.
What I would change if anything: Ann Gabhart is a true story teller. Her work stands alone and needs no changes.
Who would I recommend this book to? I would recommend this book to all women, young and old. There is knowledge about life, love, and forgiveness which should be passed on to all generations so that others gain an insight on how to deal with the tribulations that life sometimes holds for all of us.
Ratings: Realistic Characterization: 5/5 Made Me Think: 4/5 Overall enjoyment: 5/5 Readability: 5/5 Recommended: 5/5 Overall Rating: 4.5
Buy it at: Amazon Format & Pricing: Paperback:$12.98 New Kindle:Free