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I must apologize for the long delay between postings! I’ve spent the past month entertaining visiting family members, doing double time at work, and studying for an important exam to obtain national certification in my field. This unexpected “break” from blogging was also helped along by some unanticipated (and, hopefully, now fixed) technical difficulties with my email and computer. In short, I’ve been really out of touch, and not entirely by choice. My phone has been my main internet connection, and it’s hopeless at doing most of the things I’d like it to do. The only books I’ve been reading in recent days have been thick texts, so I’m really looking forward to delving into the many fiction books patiently awaiting me! I don’t have as much free time as I used to, but I’ll read when I can
(Sorry for the unexpected delay in posting this review!! I have had some serious issues with my computer and this site the last few days.)
Adriel is shocked and confused to find a fellow witch at her doorstep. Especially since said witch isn’t really… well… alive … anymore. Adriel’s not sure if her protection spells are enough to protect her from the spirt of a powerful witch, but she soon discovers that one dead witch isn’t really what she should be worrying about. When White Feather gets caught up in a windy battle and Adriel discovers that the power that killed the witch is threatening everything -and everyone- she holds dear, it’s time for action. Her usual magic may not be enough to battle the incredible evil that has been unleashed, but she still may have a few ideas up her sleeve.
The second installment in the Moon Shadow Series by Maria E Schneider, this book is very satisfying. I’ve read several of this author’s books, and this has to be my favorite thus far. First and foremost, I loved the character development, and I think this is an area where this author excels. I felt I really got to know the characters in this book, and it really added to my enjoyment. As Adriel and White Feather’s relationship deepened and we got a better picture of their histories and ther families, I felt like I got to know them so much better. Overall, I felt all the characters were well developed and interesting, and I could relate to each on them on some level (whether they reminded me of my drunken cousin at a party or a snotty sister). I even saw some of myself in a few of them. Don’t ask, though, I’m not sharing which ones….
The plot was interesting and definitely kept my attention. I’ve commented before in reviews of this author’s other work that I found some transitions to be sudden and confusing, but I’m very pleased to say I didn’t have that issue in this story. The characters did make some “logical” jumps I didn’t quite follow (they must be way smarter than I am), and some of the most exciting scenes required serious attention in order to keep up, but the plot is generally strong and flows nicely along. I didn’t have to do a double take or look back at the previous chapter to keep up with the plot. As before, I love the way this author integrates such interesting details about this magical world in with the plot in such a natural way. I really appreciate the way there is adequate detail, but I’m also left to make some connections on my own.
As mentioned, this is my favorite of Maria E. Schneider’s books so far. This story flows so easily along and really kept my interest throughout. I love the characters she has created, and I really appreciated getting to know them more in this installment of the series. I hope this series has at least a few more books lying in wait!
4.5 /5 stars
I just finished reading “Under Witch Aura” by Maria E. Schneider, the sequel to “Under Witch Moon” (which I reviewed here). The release date is December 15th, so you’ll have to wait for the review (so I can include “Buy” links), but in the meantime, you can vote for the Cover now through December 15th!
Another thriller by Russell Brooks, the overall plot of this story is clever and intriguing. This storyline has the makings of a great suspense novel. From the moment Eddie agrees to engage in the unfamiliar world of S&M just to get his name out there, this book is full of small surprises and big adventure until it reaches a shocking climax. The pacing of the story is good, and each event pushes the story further long in a way that generally makes sense. The writing is clear, and the result is a fast, engaging read that is easy to follow.
I liked the main characters, and I felt like I got to know them in the story. Their actions were consistent with their personalities, which made them more real. There were a few choices they made that seemed strange to me, but they somehow fit with the characters and their thinking patterns. I found the conversations between all the characters less believable, however. I felt they spent too much time explaining things that were better gotten from the context of the situation, and stating details that were better described by the narration. As a result, I felt many of the conversations were stilted and felt unrealistic, and I actually read several of them aloud to see if they sounded better when voiced. Also an issue for me, the very end of the story left me shaking my head. It felt a little *too* staged- less like a natural ending to this adult adventure and more like the kind of amazing coincidence you’d find in a youth story. I would have preferred the story ended before that last bit.
Overall, I think the storyline makes for an exciting and engaging read that will definitely find fans in those who like event-driven stories. Although I did enjoy this book, I found the dialogue really detracted and kept me from fully engaging.
3 /5 stars
Paul Henry is emigrating to Uhuru. Once in the ravages of a deadly virus, Uhuru is now trying to rebuild its population and infrastructure. To that end, Paul has been given the opportunity to emigrate there to help with the rebuilding. Once he gets to Uhuru, he can never leave again. So he has to say goodbye to his current life. Oneida, the love of his life, has agreed to join him in Uhuru, and Paul is envisioning a future that ends in “happily ever after.” From the moment Paul’s unmanned plane lands, however, he realizes this experience isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be. Something is a little off, and he’s determined to find out what. Suddenly the mandatory 6-month quarantine period isn’t looking as heavenly as it sounded in the brochure.
I was immediately drawn into this book by John Brinling. The general concept was really fascinating. A land ravaged by disease, then rebuilt as a special place to which you might move, but could never leave. A 6-month quarantine to acclimate you to the virus you would then forever carry. That is intriguing enough, but add in the fact that the protagonist quickly realizes that things are not what they seem, and he’s been misled in many ways. Then experience the suspense as, slowly, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together to form a horrific picture Paul could never have imagined. Definitely riveting, definitely difficult to put down. I haven’t read a plot quite like this before, and it is more thought-provoking than I might initially have expected. I really wanted to know what would happen next, how it all would end. But the ending almost felt like it would never come. There were twists and turns that were enthralling at first, but there were so many, it got a little old. Just when I thought we were wrapping it all up, something unexpected happened, and a whole new aspect of the story was introduced. Fascinating, surely, but I think a more succinct and focused storyline would have done this story great justice.
I was somewhat conflicted about the writing style. It’s very wordy, and there is quite a bit of extraneous explanation that takes away from the power of the storyline. We would be in the middle of a pretty interesting and somewhat exciting plot event when suddenly there would be an entire tangent explaining some background that would have been better introduced in a more gradual way. Additionally, there is an excessive use of exclamation points (!), which made me feel like I was reading a children’s book or an email from an excitable teenager. The extra exclamation marks and some oddly-placed question marks were more distracting than I might have though they’d be, and it changed the whole feel of the book. The characters were interesting and original in many ways, and their individual descriptions were enough to distinguish them in my mind, but several of them had the same verbose style of speaking, which muddled them and made the dialogue feel unrealistic. Finally, the copy I read was in need of a thorough editing; there was a number of minor mistakes that were distracting to my reading pleasure.
Overall, this was a story I did enjoy, in spite of what I thought were downfalls to the book. The storyline is what makes this an interesting read, and one that’s difficult to put down until the journey is completed. With a solid editing pass for sentence clarity and appropriate punctuation use, and some serious revising to take out extraneous explanation and tighten the storyline (maybe even taking out a turn or two to make the storyline more solid), this book could easily be a 4 star (or higher) book for me.
3.5 /5 stars
(I previously reviewed another book by this author’s titled “Ghost of a Flea“)
In a mostly silent world, where talking isn’t even necessary because everyone over the age of puberty can read minds, Kira is a great big zero. She’s already 16, and she hasn’t changed yet, which doesn’t give her high hopes for her future. Zeros don’t have a secure place in society. They’re viewed with suspicion- how will others know when they are lying or not? When you have a closed mind, you inadvertently miss out on all the important communication nuances. Being a big, fat zero is a serious disability, and Kira can imagine nothing worse. When Kira unexpectedly injures someone close to her with her zero mind, it starts to dawn on her that she is different…but not in the way she thought. Maybe there are worse things than just being a zero.
Written by Susan Kaye Quinn, this unique and original storyline had me on the edge of my seat, and I was generally unwilling to put the book down. The idea of a future where mind reading was the norm was interesting enough, but when the twist of mind-jacking was thrown in, it became positively enthralling. The author weaves details into the story bit by bit to let readers get to know the rules and norms of society at their own pace. New vocabulary is learned through the context of the setting, and I found myself enjoying the exploration of this world just as much as I enjoyed reading about Kira’s journey. I even found myself thinking words like “mesh” and “demens” in my real life. The writing style allowed for a quick and easy read, and was very enjoyable. The pages flew by until the disappointing ending; disappointing because I didn’t actually want the story to end.
Kira is an intriguing character. Not without her flaws, she has a strength that surprises the reader even as it surprises Kira herself. Her character is nicely nuanced and this drew me into her life. Raf was a solid counterpart whose consistency offered a nice backdrop to Kira’s emotional journey. I also really enjoyed Simon’s character. He continued to surprise me as I learned more about who he was and what he stood for. There was a depth to all of the characters that was well-suited to a young adult novel; no one was ever really good, and no one was ever really bad. Everyone was somewhere on that “shades of gray” spectrum, which rounds them out to be realistic people rather than caricatures.
The pacing of the story was generally good and kept me engaged. Although I was really interested in the storyline and found it difficult to put down, there were a few places that felt a bit draggy, and a few events and conversations felt superfluous. I thought Kira’s character was pretty great, but some of her actions and words seemed a little confusing to me as they didn’t seem to fit the girl I felt I had gotten to know. The ending of the story was fine, but Kira’s choices made me wonder how she could expect it to turn out ok. I think such a great story deserved a stronger ending, an ending that would really have left me salivating for the next book. These are minor, nitpicky details, and they weren’t major detractors at all. The total package was solid, entertaining, and left me wanting more, much more.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The first book in the planned “Mindjack Trilogy,” there is more to come in the second book in series, “Closed Hearts.” If you are a fan of dystopian thrillers like “Hunger Games,” “Divergent,” and “Unwind,” this book really needs to be on your short list of books to be read. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
4.5 /5 stars
You can win your very own digital copy of “Open Minds” right here!
Entering is easy, just leave a comment on this post and list your preferred format (e.g., mobi, epub). The author will email one lucky winner this fantastic book! Be sure to Sign up for Susan Kaye Quinn’s newsletter and Like Susan Kaye Quinn’s Facebook page! It’s not required to enter, but the perks speak for themselves. You’ll definitely want to know when the next book is ready! A winner will be randomly chosen after the contest closes on November 30th and will receive the digital book via email. Spread the word by tweeting, facebooking, word of mouth, posting on your blog, however you’d like to share!
YAAAY! It’s my turn to be a feature on Feature and Follow Friday! This is doubly good, since this also happens to be my birthday!
Hosted by Parajunkee’s View and Alison Can Read, the question for today’s Follow Friday is:
Q. In light of 11.11.11 and Veteran’s Day tell us about your favorite soldier and how he or she is saving the world. Fictional or real life.
Wow, what a thought-provoking question. It’s hard to answer because I feel so conflicted about the war we have been in for many years now, yet I respect and am humbled by how many of our brave soldiers put their lives on the line every day to protect our freedoms. I guess my favorite soldier would feel very passionately about our country and everything our country stands for. It’s an amazing and awe-inspiring commitment to be a soldier, and I am very thankful there are people who are led to devote themselves to this calling so the rest of us can stand free.
Your turn! Powered by Linky Tools
Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… If you’re a new follower, let me know so I can follow back (comments on the top right)! You can also follow me on twitter @GKMotherLode and befriend me on Facebook to follow my reviews!
Also- check out the other feature for this week! Be sure to stop by The Book Nympho blog!
After friends stressed that this was a book not to miss, I hit my local library and snagged a copy. The description, from Amazon:
Starred Review. Grade 7 Up—Set in the future, the second civil war is fought over abortion. To end the war, a compromise is reached that ends the practice of abortion but creates an alternative called “unwinding.” Between the ages of 13 and 17, parents or guardians can choose to have their children unwound, which involves having every part of their bodies harvested to be “donated” to another person so, technically, they don’t really die. The complex and compelling plot follows three teens whose stories intertwine when they escape while on their way to the harvest camps. Fifteen-year-old Connor’s parents can no longer control him. Lev, a tithe, was raised by religious parents for the sole purpose of being unwound. Risa, a ward of the state, is a victim of shrinking budgets since she is not a talented enough musician to be kept alive. Neal Shusterman’s engrossing novel (S & S, 2007) is narrated in an even cadence and matter-of-fact tone that suits the author’s straightforward narrative style. His wide array of voices makes the involved story line, which is left wide open for what is sure to be an interesting sequel, easy to follow. This gripping, thought-provoking novel is guaranteed to lead to interesting discussions about abortion, adoption, organ donation, religion, politics, and health care.—Karen T. Bilton, Mary Jacobs Memorial Library, Rocky Hill, NJ .
I’m really glad I did. Yet another young adult dystopian creation, this book looks at what might happen if the US finally compromised on the abortion issue in a way that is both completely unexpected and mutually beneficial (and twisted) way. The premise, though appalling, is quite thought-provoking and it’s difficult to look away. Instead of dying, those who are “unwound” live on in another’s body in a “divided state,” so no lives are ever “lost-” or so the proponents of the law convince themselves. It’s disturbing, but somehow logical at the same time. The intriguing chapter that describes a character’s unwinding is all at once heartbreaking and horrifying.
The characters are nicely developed and realistic for their ages, given the bizarre situation in which they are placed. I love the way the author chose three very different experiences upon which to focus. Risa is a ward of the state whose musical talent isn’t enough to escape her fate of being unwound; a victim of a small budget in tight times. Connor is a boy who can’t stay on the right side of trouble, and his parents have had enough. He’s not worth the energy it takes to keep him on the straight and narrow, so it’s off to be unwound. Finally, we have Lev. Lev has preparing for this his entire life. He is a tithe, chosen from birth as an offering for a higher purpose. He has trained and prepared for this sacrifice, and to him it’s an honor. Each of these main characters has a different experience, and, thus, a very different viewpoint on being an unwind. There are several other primary characters who help round out the cast, and each of those characters comes to life on the pages. The character I found most disturbing, however, was the Admiral. His character has a nice depth that slowly unfolds to allow us to get to know him better; a prime example of “what you see is not what you get.” The dialogue between characters in the story rings true, and these are characters with whom to engage and live through.
Written with a voice that speaks to a young (and older) audience, this book was hard to put down and is full of thought-provoking themes. The author teaches you about this post- Heartland War world very naturally, unfolding more details as the story progresses. The “rules” become more clear as we go further into this world. We learn of other elements that are different, such as “storking,” the process of putting a baby on another’s doorstep to raise. While many of the “norms” in this time are alien to us, the author does a good job of normalizing them in the context of the book while still allowing us to see the horror. The idea that a parents can retroactively choose to “abort” a child, a child who happens to be going through the emotional and angst-ridden teen years, is almost unfathomable. And yet, when you read this story, it somehow isn’t.
It will be some time before I get this book out of my head.
Initially reluctant, Nina took over her father’s private eye practice after his unexpected death. When all her cases seem to involve dead people, she realizes something’s not quite right. As she gets move involved in her first “seemingly normal” case in a while, things begin to take an odd turn, leading her on a “wild ghost chase.” The paranormal and the normal collide as she struggles to track down a missing baby and a mysterious locket while wondering why it all seems to lead back to her. Sometimes it’s tricky figuring out what’s real and what’s not.
Written by J. J. Paul, this mystery has an overlay of paranormal. I liked Nina’s character. She’s a strong female lead who’s determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Not a lot seems to throw her off, and that makes her interesting. I wasn’t as fond of some of the other characters in the book, however. I felt some were inconsistent in their speech patterns (one character uses “Me” in place of I in several places, later using “I’s,” another character uses “I’s,” and then uses “I’m” when talking to the same person) and in some of their actions. I did feel like I could get a grip on many of these characters to some extent, which speaks to the details used to describe them, but they still didn’t feel very “real” to me. They felt more like their ghostly cohorts; visible, but somehow not quite tangible. The relationships between them struck me as similarly amorphous. Characters that had just met seemed to already have a familiarity, and it sometimes felt like I was supposed to already have additional information to make all the connections Nina was able to make.
In general, I felt like I was missing some background, and I never really felt engaged as a result. A few offhand references to the year cued me into the fact that this story takes place in the near future, and I was glad to get that information since I never felt the setting or time period was firmly established. The paranormal aspect didn’t seem like something unusual to the main character, and that confused me. Was seeing ghosts a typical experience for people in this setting, or was it atypical? It took me a while to get a grasp on that whole concept, and I felt like I was in a fog for some of the story.
In spite of what I felt were shortcomings in the story, I wanted to keep reading to the end. I wanted to find out how the story would come to a conclusion. I can’t say I loved the ending, but I didn’t hate it either. It just left me a bit befuddled, like the rest of the book. I didn’t have really strong feelings about the book one way or the other. It was interesting and kept my attention enough to get me to the end, but I wasn’t really engaged in it. When I factor in the need for further editing for typos/substitutions as well as some sentence structure revisions, I give this:
2.5 /5 stars
In the modern age, even shamans have turned to technology to make their jobs easier. Livvy is a “techno-shaman” who uses virtual reality goggles to help her enter the altered state more quickly than drugs or meditation ever did. Using her talents, she makes her meager living traveling through the middleworld and the underworld to help troubled souls. When a kachina visits her in the night and Livvy notices that her business has taken an interesting turn, she realizes that things are changing in the underworld. Then Livvy runs across something unexpected and fearsome, and she realizes it’s going to take the combined efforts of all the shaman she can find to put a stop to the ancient being methodically terrorizing them and threatening their business. Unfortunately, that will be a hard sell, since shaman don’t even talk to one another, let alone work together. Livvy’s going to have to break a lot of rules to make this work.
A 2011 Semi-Finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest, this book by M. Terry Green is immediately engaging. From the very beginning, I was drawn into Livvy’s life. The book is sprinkled with tantalizing details about the work of the shaman and how it integrates into the modern LA scene, giving the reader the joy of gradually discovering the details of this world. I loved the idea of the goggles and the multiverse, and I found the “rules” of this existence to be intriguing. It was evident that there was a lot of thought that went into how things would work for the shaman in this setting.The plot flows nicely from one event to another without ever feeling like it dragged, and the writing style made for an easy, quick read. The ending was generally satisfying (with the exception of Joel’s part), and it even held a twist I wasn’t expecting.
Livvy was easy to get to know and I was interested in her and her work. I really liked her character and she just felt “right” for the job. Working as a broker of shaman services, SK was a good accompaniment for Livvy’s character. He was tough, but with a soft spot for Livvy, which made him realistic and gave us sympathy for his character. Each of the other shaman had very interesting and unique personalities, and the distinctions between them were well drawn by the author. The descriptions made it easy to picture the majority of the characters and imagine their interactions with one another. Joel’s character, however, was one that didn’t seem to fit for me. When he first burst onto the scene, I thought he might be interesting. As the story progressed, he seemed “off” to me. He felt less developed than the other characters- almost more like an afterthought to add some tension and a love interest. I couldn’t figure out why Livvy seemed to trust him immediately, and his reaction to her line of work felt unexpected. As the story progressed, I found him even more unbelievable, and his part in the ending detracted from the story for me. If he didn’t fit before, he seemed almost ludicrous by that point. I really don’t think the story needed his character in order to be complete. I think it does just fine on its other merits.
Altogether, this was a very enjoyable story that kept me entertained and made me want more. Luckily for me, the second book in the series is already out: Shaman, Friend, Enemy (Olivia Lawson, Techno-Shaman)
4 /5 stars