Category: Book Reviews.

Book Review – Suicide Stitch, By Sarah L. Johnson

I happened upon this book one day on one of my frequent trips to Chapters. The author, Sarah Johnson, had a table set up and was signing books. At first glance I thought –– short stories, that’s not really my thing, but I’m so glad I picked up a copy!

Out of the eleven stories in this book my favourite are: I Am Lost, and Five-Day Forecast.

I Am Lost, features my favourite type of storytelling: the unreliable narrator! It’s the story of a couple, determined to live free of things that cramp their style or tie them down – when the unexpected happens; a pregnancy. The author whisks you back and forth between past and present, and only at the end do you piece together what really happen. Viewing the outcome through murk clouded glasses.

Five-Day Forecast: This is a story about two broken souls, at least that’s the way I saw it: an exotic dancer and a child of divorce. Each day, for four days, the dancer finds the child huddled by a chain-link fence, in frigid temperatures, near her house. Though their conversation might seem mundane, there are moments that scratch at the raw parts of both their lives. On the fifth day, the boy doesn’t show at their usual meeting spot. The coldness of that day can be felt though the pages.

I absolutely love reading all the stories in this book! I give it a 5 out of 5!

http___www.pixteller.com_pdata_t_l-442118(1)

 

Dark Fantasy is not my usual genre of choice, but I’m so glad I took the chance on this book!

Where do I start …

necroThe main characters, Maldren (love the name) and Ayla, aren’t your ‘A’ typical heroes. Maldren, is a bit of a buck the tides, head strong, Necromancer. He has ambitions for promotion in his guild, but keeps getting passed over. For those of you who don’t know what a Necromancer is, it ‘s – in general, a magic practiced by a witch or sorcerer. This magic centers on being able to communicate and/or conjure magic in regards to the dead.

Ayla, is Maldren’s new apprentice. She’s young, from a rich family, inexperienced … everything that gets on Maldren’s “got-to-go” list. But – things change, the story develops, and you can’t help falling in love with both these characters.

Each scene is vividly written, taking the reader there; to the battles, to the sewers, and back to places a little less rough around the edges. Many times when reading this book, I found myself glancing back at the cover. Graeme Ing couldn’t have picked a better image for this story!

I give this book a 4 out 5! And would recommend it to any fantasy loving reader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I was given an advance read copy of this book for a fair and honest review.*

 

I like to write book reviews as soon as I finish reading the book, while it’s all still fresh in my mind. Though it’s been a few days since I’ve finished this one, I’m am not worried about forgetting it’s intricacies. This is one of those books that stays with you for a while. The characters, their trials, the love, the heartache; choices made by fictional characters that by the end of the book are all too real.

The Edge of Nowhere, a historical fiction novel by C. H. Armstrong, that will take you on a journey of what it was like for a young widow and her combined fourteen children and stepchildren to survive in the 1930’s dust bowl era.

Spoiler Alert!

 

The beginning of the story starts with a letter written by grandmother, Victoria Hastings. At the end of this prologue there is a line that sums up the entire book so beautifully.

“Remember me not as your hostile and overbearing grandmother, but as a woman who refused to be a victim.”

Indeed, Victoria Hastings, refused to become a victim. Through harsh circumstances, Victoria survived to become a woman, almost emotionally unrecognizable from her youth. This story will make you feel the love, hate, and everything in between that Victoria felt.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars! And would recommend it to anyone who likes women’s fiction, or historical fiction.

 

The Coven 600 dpiBefore I give you my thoughts on this book, I would like say that I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

This book falls in the genre of magical realism, which is one of my favourites. The story starts off in the year 1718 AD on an island off the coast of North Carolina. A coven of witches has gathered on the beach to discuss an impending attack from the infamous pirate Blackbeard. A decision is made by the queen of the witches to send three of the covens daughters as a distraction to Blackbeard. Blackbeard takes the women, convinced that they are not witches, leaving the rest the people on the island to escape his wrath. The queen scarified these women to the pirates to hide there most guarded secret… that they are witches.

After this introduction, the story jumps to present day focusing on the main character Stevie. Stevie is a thirty year old, recently divorced, single mother of a young autistic boy. Stevie has no idea that her mother, friends, and rekindled love interest are all witches, until she saves her son from a near miss car accident. Stevie then discover she too is a witch, and is told about an evil witch who returned to her small town to seek revenge on her and her young son.

I loved the ideas and concept behind this story, but felt it lacked in a few areas. Sometimes I felt confused about what characters were in a scene. And on other occasions, I felt mundane details were described overly, not really adding to the story. But as a whole, the story was good. It kept my interest till the very end.

As a writer myself, I understand the difficulties all to well when it comes to crafting a well-written story. I think this author has real potential in her writing but I’m giving this first book in the Crystal Coast series a 3 out of 5 stars. If you want an easy beach read, and love stories about witches, this book might be for you.

Write On! Indie Book Review #6: These Books Have Cooties. By Christina McMullen

The other day I realized it has been a long time since I’ve written a Write On! Review post, even though I’ve read a whole lot of books recently. Well, part of that has to do with the fact that I’m actually woefully behind in posting reviews to both Amazon and Goodreads and part of that has to do with the fact that I’ve spent the last month in social media limbo after my tablet blew up. (For more on that, read my guest post about techno-dependency on S.K. Thomas’ blog)

So… To make up for this, I’ve decided to do a super-sized Write On! and yes, as the title suggests, these books are written by men. For those just tuning in, Write On! has traditionally been reserved for reviews of science fiction and fantasy books by female authors. Every so often I’ve allowed a dude to sneak in under the radar, but this time, I’ve opened the gates. Of course, because every once in a while I let a male author sit at the girl’s table, I’ve also put female author on this list as well. What follows is a list of super authors that I’ve recently enjoyed that you should definitely check out.

D. E. Morris, author of Aliens in the Gift Shop
Looking for fun, lighthearted and quirky science fiction that reads easily yet still packs in the science? Then this is the book for you! Aliens in the Gift Shop tells of two alien scientists on an exploratory mission to earth that goes slightly awry, as well as the human woman (and owner of said gift shop) who gets caught up in their shenanigans. Once you read, you’ll definitely want to see more of Marcy, Quigbat, and Zort, so lucky for you, the sequel, Aliens and the Race to Earth is coming out on July 20th!

Dwayne Fry, author of Ladybug Boy and a whole mess of other stories.
Okay, picking just one of Mr. Fry’s stories out of the nearly two dozen he’s published is incredibly difficult. Like so many of us, Fry decided to indie publish because he didn’t want to be shoehorned into a single genre. While I would say the majority of his stories are satire, there’s also quite a few horror, general lit, and now he has paranormal as well. Ladybug Boy falls into the category of general lit and I picked this one because I’ve just recently finished and have yet to write a review. The tale takes place in the mid eighties and made me incredibly embarrassed as I realized that my awkward junior high period was probably even more awkward than poor Lola’s, but that’s exactly what I loved about it. This particular story is part of a series that will eventually lead to a full length novel and I’m looking forward to reading soon.

Ryan Guy, author of Atomic Aardvark
Still looking for quirky? The last two authors not quirky enough for you? Well, how about the story of an epic battle between a skunk and an aardvark, each of whom acquires super powers from a combination of a meteor shower and toxic waste? Oh, and there’s also a pair of star crossed internet dating app users who may or may not be able to get their heads out of their own butts long enough to figure their love life out, but really, this story is all about Aardy, the Atomic Aardvark.

Riley Amos Westbrook, author of Breath of Titans: Little Black Stormcloud
There’s something about epic fantasy that I simply don’t like and it has everything to do with the snooze fest that is Tolkien. It’s pretty obvious that Westbrook loves Tolkien and was heavily influenced by his work. Lucky for us, he’s not a giant bore and writes fun characters who are not full of themselves (mostly because they are full of intoxicating spirits) and are interesting enough that we care what happens to them. In a world of orcs and fairies, a half-dragon half-elf named Lov must quest to find out what happened to his mother and find the one who killed his father. Lov is easy to… Well… Love. He’s young and wet behind the ears. He’s also impulsive and given to fits as most teens (and I suspect most dragons) are, but that is all part of his charm. That, and there are fairies. Fairies who seem to exist for no other reason than to annoy Lov’s uncle Nord, who is also a fun character. Seriously, even if you aren’t a fantasy fan, check this one out.

Charles Hash, author of Nascent Decay
Are you a fan of space horror? Did you love the film Alien? No? What’s wrong with you? Nascent Decay has all of the elements of classic horror, but tells a unique tale of what happens when the human mind is pushed beyond its limits. The heroes are flawed and the antagonists are utterly merciless, as is the author in lulling the audience into a false sense of security before gutting us once again. A sequel is currently in the works. Until then, I recommend checking out Mr. Hash’s short stories as well.

David M. Kelly, author of Dead Reckoning and Other Stories
Looking for sci-fi of a more classic variety? How about tales that would be at home in the Twilight Zone? Then this is the collection you’ll want to read. There’s everything from the chilling title story of karma coming ’round to bite you in the butt, to the heart wrenching How Much is that Doggy, to one incredibly groan worthy pun. Sadly, it isn’t out until July 28th, but before then, you can check out Mr. Kelly’s other short works, some of which will be featured in the collection.

V. M. Sawh, author of Cinders
This is not the Cinderella story of your childhood. Here you will find no Disney princess. Instead, what you’ll find is a gothic tale that in many ways is much closer to the original and mostly morbid original Aschenputtel. What you’ll also find is a darkly beautiful tale and expert storytelling. Cinders is part of the Good Tales for Bad Dreams series, which puts a very different spin on these well known stories.

Kat Caffee, author of Out of the Darkness
As I said, to keep things fair, I had to put a female author in with this group of fellas. Sorry Kat, hope you’re immune to cooties.
In all seriousness, this series is one to watch. On a very basic level it it the tale of a gladiator, born into slavery, who fights his way to freedom and must learn to adapt to a whole new set of rules as a free man. But really, it’s so much more than that. The storytelling is superb. Despite the heavy subject matter, there’s some lighthearted elements that crop up at the right times. As of right now, there are two books in the series available with a third coming  soon. I’ve actually had the pleasure of beta reading the third, so I can say that the story just keeps getting more interesting.

Keep watching for more Write On! book recommendations! Next time, we’re bringing the ladies back for some good old fashioned fantasy fairytales!

Book Review – Blues for Zoey – By Robert Paul Weston

I picked up this book on recommend from the manager at my local Chapters store, and was not disappointed. If you’re a fan of John Green’s Paper Towns, I’m sure you’ll like this book by Robert Paul Weston.

The main character Kaz, works at the Sit’N’Spin laundromat, saving every penny he earns for college. At least that’s what he tells people. He’s really saving his money for his sick mother who needs special medical care they can’t afford.

Through chance, Kaz meets Zoey. A quirky musical genius, who plays an instrument that resembles a homemade crucifix. As their relationship develops, you can tell there’s something Zoey is hiding. A shaded past? An underlying agenda? I won’t spoil it for you.

Robert Paul Weston has cleverly crafted a twist in this book that surprised even me. I give Blues for Zoey 4 out of 5 stars, and would recommend it to any fan of YA fiction who likes a surprise ending.

Book Review – The Storyteller’s Daughter. Where The Story Begins.

By Sharon Dawn Selby

 

I had the honour of receiving a signed paperback copy of this book from the author, in exchange for a fare and honest review. As much as I can, I try to read indie author books. Not only to support my fellow indie authors but to hopefully be the first to discover a great story.

Although Sharon Selby has written other works, this book is her first work of fiction, classified as juvenile / young adult fiction. After reading it, I would say an appropriate age range of readers would be around 11-13, as the language and content is mild.

This book starts out fast from the gates. The main character, Skye, abruptly losses her parents in a questionable car accident. No one seems to investigate her parent’s death at all. Documents are signed, the family house is packed up by movers, and Skye is left to live with a creepy family friend.

Sparked by visions, and strange changes to family photos, Skye is swept up on a journey to find out more about a past that’s been hidden from her. She discovers a history filled with magic… and the art of Seanachie story telling.

I liked the fresh ideas portrayed in this story. Before reading this I knew nothing about Seanachie’s and their lore. Sharon Selby really takes the reader in to the Seanachie world.

I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars. The only reason being, that I found the story to slow in the middle and towards the end, and found it difficult to keep my interest.

Book Review – The Yellow Hoods, Along Came a Wolf – By Adam Dreece

The Yellow Hoods

Through serendipitous chance I stumbled upon this wonderful book by author Adam Dreece. The Yellow Hoods – Alone Came a Wolf is the first in a five book series, three of which are published to date. This book is classified as emergent steampunk, which is for ages 9 to 12. Even though this book is for a younger crowd, I still enjoyed it very much. I’m also told that this series progresses with the reader, turning in to a more pre-teen/young adult type read in the following books. So, it’s a series the can grow with the reader.
Adam Dreece has artfully combined the fairy tale and steampunk genres together in a new and refreshing way. For any reader who hasn’t experienced steampunk fiction yet, this book is a wonderful introduction into that world.
There were many parts of this book I liked, one of which was the author’s play on words with his characters names. LeLoup… The Big Bad Wolf. Egelina-Marie and Bakon… Eggs and Bacon. And of course Bakon’s brothers, Bore and Squeals… the three pigs. But, my favorite part of the book came on page 172.

(SPOILER ALERT)

The main character Tee, has just vanquished her foe LeLoup. Her mother and father have come to find her face down in a pile of leaves. She rolls over, checks herself for injuries, and admits to her parents that LeLoup is defeated by the yellow hoods. Then her mother asks her…

“You forgot something,” said Jennifer.
“What’s that?” asked Tee.
“Your triumphant La-la,” answered here mom, sweetly.
Tee thought about it for a moment. For years, Tee had added her special exclamation to things she’d done – but none of them had been as serious as this.
Sitting on her dad’s knee, and looking at the trees and their enchanting, colored leaves, she said, “Mom, I think I might have outgrown it.”
Her parents hugged her tightly.

This is the exact moment in the book when Tee starts to turn from child to adult. It’s the first glimmer of realization that things are serious and not just fun and games. I love coming of age moments in books! They are my absolute favorite.
As the author recommends, so do I, this is a book series for ages 9-99! I give this easy, fun read a 5 out of 5 stars.

 

Happy Reading.

red queen 2

This book is yet another YA novel I devoured in just a few nights. Victoria Aveyard’s novel Red Queen is a refreshing take on the young adult dystopian society genre. In this book you get it all, Kings and Queens, love and betrayal, struggle and my favorite… revolution.

I feel in love with the main characters Mare and Cal, not so secretly rooting for their underdog romance. I even found myself talking to them… “Mare! How can you be so blind!” Ooh, but that’s what makes this book so good! You think and feel exactly what Mare Barrow’s feels, on her rollercoaster through friendships, death, being red, being silver, being… Mare.

The last pages leave my heart aching, not just for the main characters, but for the fact I’ll have to wait for the sequel!

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5.

Raziel Reid

I just finished reading When Everything Feels Like The Movies, By Raziel Reid… And my heart is still raw.

This book won the 2015 Canadian Governor Generals Award in young adult fiction and attracted much attention in doing so. (I can’t help but laugh a little… The main character Jude would have LOVED this!) I read a few heated articles about this book and its award. Some said, that the use of language, discussion of drugs, and graphic sex and violence in this book were too much of an adult topic to be classified as young adult fiction. And, that the book was glorifying these subjects.

After reading it cover to cover, I’d dare to say that that was not the author’s intent at all. I’d say it was more a portrayal of an honest, brutal and totally un-sugar coated reality that some gay youth have to face every day.

It starts off as a tale of a flamboyantly gay teen, living as only he can (in the spot light), in an unaccepting, homophobic society. The main character, Jude, faces many hardships; bulling, assaults, fake friends, checked out parents, and the list goes on. Jude’s life is not an easy one, but he chooses to live it openly no matter what the consequence.

There’s a Betty Davis quote in the book that really stuck with me… Probably burned in to my memory forever.

“It’s better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for someone you’re not.”

This book is not my usual M.O., but I’m glad I expanded my horizons and took the time to read it. If I were asked if I would recommend this book, what would I say?

Have an open mind… Not everything you read has to have a glossy coat of ‘perfect’ on it.

I give this book a 5 out of 5… and 1 yellow blanket.