Book Review: Riches to Rags by Casey L. Bond

Riches to Rags by Casey L. Bond

A YA Fairy Tale Retelling Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (10/31/17)

Summary:

“You are brave when you should be terrified, kind when you should be bitter, humble when you could be prideful, and your spirit, instead of being crushed beneath circumstance, somehow managed to rise above it all and remain joyful.”

Ella Carina’s favorite pastime is sitting in her window seat and gazing at the people outside as they go about their daily lives. She despairs that she’ll be stuck in the castle until her father forces her to marry an older man from Galder for political reasons. At 14, she expects to wait until after her older sister is married, but her father decides to marry both Carina and Ivy on the same day in a few weeks. With her future set, Carina is about to lose what little freedom she does have. The very next day the next kingdom over attacks the castle and she is swept away, her life as she knows it is over. But perhaps living in hiding as a farmer will give her the simpler life she has always dreamed about.

Keywords:

Fairy Tale, Retelling, Cinderella, Love, Innocent, Envy, Prince, King, Kingdom, Power, Escape, Hiding, Poor, Dreams, Castle, Tyrant, Family, Friendship, Fighting

My Review:

I love a good fairy tale retelling. Riches to Rags was an excellent fairy tale adaptation. I absolutely love Bond’s writing style and the flow of her stories.

I thought Carina grew so much from the beginning of the novel to the end. Bond does an amazing job of showing Carina’s growth and change as a character. Bond also creates so much conflict, terror, and circumstances outside of Carina’s control, that I wondered how she would survive. Carina’s true character, her grit, and her good nature shows true as she lives and works with the farmers. She is grateful to be alive to be placed with such a loving family. Carina is a much more active character than she has reason to be. Bond gives Carina the perseverance to create a good and happy life for herself, despite the circumstances that brutally took her away from her life in the castle as a princess.

As soon as you fall in love with Carina and her new romance with the blacksmith’s son and wonder how she will overcome the animosity from her new sister, a new conflict arises. This book had so much packed into it and I very much enjoyed reading it. I look forward to reading Casey Bond’s other fairy tale adaptations.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 10/31/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

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Book Review: The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray

The Liberty Box by C.A. Gray

A Dystopian Novel published by Wanderlust Publishing (10/25/2015)

Summary:

In the Republic of Americas everyone is happy. Jackson has been excited to go back to his home in the Republic of Americas for years, but upon arrival, the land of plenty is a depressing landscape of malnourished citizens who appear happier than they should be. Just hours after his ship arrives, Jackson is singled out and taken to a Liberty Box. Only his mental training will keep him from being bewitched like all the other citizens in the Americas.

Keywords:

Dystopian, Mind Control, Medication, Drugs, Economical Collapse, Power, Technological advances, Escape, Fight, Politics, Government, Investigation, Reporter

My Review:

The Liberty Box is a mind control center, the place where the government and those who work for the government capture the brain waves of all newcomers. Once they have the brain waves, they can then send messages and lies to every person in the Republic of the Americas to control how they perceive their world. All citizens can be happy all the time doing anything the political leaders need or want them to do. Does this mind control work all the time? As long as the machines are up and running, they seem to work continuously. I liked that there has only been a short history of the Republic of the Americas since it was simply North America. Not enough time for history to dissolve in everyone’s mind but enough time to indoctrinate *most* of the youth. That is where Kate comes in. As a child she was sent to a camp for those who saw through the brain wave mind control. She was successfully rehabilitated, or so everyone thought.

I thought the author did a great job presenting the dystopian future and filling out the world building from the different perspectives in different chapters of the novel. I would have liked to know more about all the facets of the mind control. What difficulties did they face in the beginning of the Republic of the Americas when they had to create the infrastructure to support the mind control? How far does the manipulation reach? Perhaps these questions will be answered further in the series.

This Dystopian novel was published by Wanderlust Publishing 10/25/2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

C.A. Gray’s Website

Book Review: Behind the Mask by Brandon Kennedy

Behind the Mask by Brandon Kennedy

A Superhero Novel published by Amazon Digital Services Inc. (07/13/2018)

Summary:

Heroes exist. Kelly has a power, but she doesn’t want to use it. She doesn’t want to get caught with her power. Expectations are too high and she just wants to be left alone. Not everyone feels this way. Kelly’s best friend wants to be a hero and will jump at the chance when she gains her own powers, pulling Kelly along with her. Kelly will be left with no choice but to use her power. The question is, who will she use it for?

 

Join a heroine hiding from her past, a villain stuck between loyalty and passion, a vigilante masquerading as a hero, and a detective searching for the strings that tie them all together. This dark tale explores the idea that the person behind the mask isn’t always who we expect them to be.

Keywords:

Flying, Superhero, Hero, Villain, Society, Past, Mask, Hidden, Romance, Friends, Secrets

My Review:

I really liked Kelly. She’s the reluctant hero of the story. She has a chip on her shoulder and a bitter attitude about heroes, but is loyal to a fault. When her friends pull her into the world of heroes, she will have to respond. At least to save their butts.

I didn’t buy the romance that was introduced in the second half of this story. It was too sudden – for the characters and in the plot of the story – as if it was thrown in there for variety and to create extra problems for the characters.

The story was excellent and really fun to read. The grammar could use some work. There were quite a number of typos as well and there was an issue with the formatting, especially in the second half. This book, if polished, would be a five-star read. As it is, if you can look past the grammar, typos, and formatting you will enjoy this book immensely (especially if you like a good superhero action book).

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services Inc. 07/13/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: Poison Passion (Gina Wetherby Mysteries) by Linda Jordan

Poison Passion (Gina Wetherby Mysteries) by Linda Jordan

A Mystery Novel published through Metamorphosis Press (11/09/18)

Summary:

Gina Wetherby has been given the task of hand delivering one of her own paintings to her client’s private island before their daughter’s wedding. Gina is thrilled to visit the estate, tour the carefully created garden, and find more flowers to paint for her client. Unfortunately, before the wedding, a murder throws everything into chaos and nobody is allowed to leave the island until the killer is caught.

Keywords:

Cozy Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horticulture, Flowers, Seattle, Wedding, Murder, Gardener, Estate, Art, Artist, Painter, Food, Cats, Private Island

My Review:

I don’t have the pleasure of reading many cozy mysteries so I don’t have much experience with the genre. That being said, I did enjoy this book. I really liked the main character, Gina. She is not your average main character. She is middle aged, single, and smart. She doesn’t fall in love in this story. The mystery (murder rather) is the focal point, which I really liked. I also liked how savvy Gina was with technology and how useful she actually was during the investigation. She might not be an investigator, but she’s logical and can use her knowledge and skills to assist with the investigators.

Some of the writing was a little clunky in parts, but the story flowed well. The ending was a bit of a disappointment for me as I didn’t think it tied into the characters and story as well as it could have.

This novel was published through Metamorphosis Press on 11/09/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

Linda Jordan’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Playing Doctor: A Geek Girl Rom Com (Fandom Hearts Book 5) by Cathy Yardley

Playing Doctor: A Geek Girl Rom Com (Fandom Hearts Book 5) by Cathy Yardley

A Romantic Comedy published by RYW Publishing (01/27/19)

Summary:

Cressida has been agoraphobic for years, but she has her safe place in her house and she’s been taking baby steps venturing outside the house in a friend’s RV. The only problem is that the landlord wants to sell the house and unless Cressida and her sisters can come up with the money fast, they will have to move. Cressida will have to brave leaving the house in order to save it. She thinks she knows where she can find a hidden treasure that one of  her favorite authors left as a treat to his fans. Now all Cressida needs is someone to drive her and the RV across several states to find this treasure.

Noah has been a fan of Cressida and the treasure hunt for years. He spends his free time looking for the treasure. All that money could fund schooling for him to be a doctor and take some of the pressure off his hard-working immigrant mother. Nobody has gotten closer to finding the treasure than Cressida. Noah has always wanted to meet her but never took action until the son of the famous author threatens to report Noah’s mother to ICE. Noah will put everything aside to save his mother and will say anything and do anything to get Cressida to help him find the treasure. They plan to split it 50/50, but with both keeping secrets from the other, their tenuous trust might not last long enough to see the payout.

Keywords:

Treasure Hunt, Journey, Agoraphobia, Friendship, Romance, Sisters, Family, Trust, Road Trip, RV, Books, Clues, Book Shop, Risk, Fear

My Review:

Every time I read a book by Yardley, I seem to finish the book in one sitting and wish that I had more of her books to read. The Fandom Hearts series is especially a series I love to read because it’s set locally, the characters are full of personality, and the stories are larger than life.

I loved Cressida’s story in this book, as well as Noah’s story. They are both diverse characters. Cressida is agoraphobic and Noah is the son of an immigrant. I loved that I got to see the difficulties that mental illness and immigration play in this story. I think Yardley did justice to her characters and their backgrounds.

The treasure hunt aspect gave me Déjà vu. Was I reading about Ready, Player, One’s author Ernest Cline and his treasure hunt for the DeLorean? I laughed when Yardley mentioned this specific treasure hunt in the book.

The story was captivating, the characters were delightfully diverse and developed, and the writing style was flawless. I can’t wait for the next Fandom Hearts book if there is one!

This novel was published by RYW Publishing on 01/27/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.00

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Cathy Yardley’s Website

Book Review: Rhapsody (The Nightmusic Trilogy, #3) by Heather McKenzie

Rhapsody (The Nightmusic Trilogy, #3) by Heather McKenzie

A YA Novel published by Clean Teen Publishing (01/07/19)

Summary:

With Luke captured, Kaya has no choice but to save him. Kaya’s father, the evil Henry, has given her an ultimatum: her life for his. The clock is ticking and Kaya is all for rushing down to her former home, saving her beloved and sacrificing herself. Thomas, Lisa, and Seth are not as keen on Kaya’s plan. Nothing will stand in Kaya’s way. Not Thomas, who loves her as more than just a friend. Not Seth, who is more interested in keeping Kaya alive than in respecting her decision. But there’s more at stake than just her life and the best laid plans don’t always work.

Keywords:

Suspense, Romance, Love Triangle, Hate, Secrets, Mystery, Loyalty, Family, Hiding, Running, Escape, Heiress, Protection, Discovery, Past, Power, Corruption, Fight, Motivation, Money, Safe, Bargaining, Resources, Friendship, Destruction

My Review:

Rhapsody starts off right where Nocturne left off. Luke and Stephan are in custody (Henry’s custody). Kaya, with her group of friends is setting out to save Luke. Thomas and Seth won’t let her passion, anger, and emotion get the better of her. There is more at stake than Kaya’s life. I like how this book really drives home the bigger picture in the world McKenzie builds in this trilogy. Henry is up to no good and if Kaya goes back to him, it will be nothing but trouble for more than just her friends. He is evil on a much larger scale than Kaya ever thought. He is a real and true bad guy. I appreciated the fact that he is still Kaya’s father. Like in a real abusive relationship, especially one among family members, Kaya longs for the attention and love of her father. All she ever wanted was his love. If he had given her that when she was younger, would she consider him as evil as she does? Kaya has flashbacks to times when Henry could have shown his love and this illustrates all the more what a terrible person he is. It also breaks down any sort of connection Kaya might have had with her father.

I didn’t like this third and final book in the trilogy as much as the first and second books. Even though I read this book in a very short period of time and had a hard time putting it down, it felt like the entire book was a climax. There was so much tension and action that I was continually anxious for Kaya and an eventual happy ending.

Like with the first book and the second book, everyone falls in love with Kaya and her do-what-she-believes-in attitude. She wears her heart on her sleeve, will dig in her heels when she needs to, and will do anything to protect those she loves. Kaya is the heroine everyone wants to be and the woman all the men fall in love with. Even the women fall in love with her. I have to wonder how she manages to make enemies, but she does!

McKenzie is a phenomenal storyteller and has a seamless writing style. The story had a flow, as did the structure of the words on the pages. I would read books from a different genre from this author, if she were to leave young adult and write something completely different. I look forwarding to reading McKenzie’s next novel.

This novel will be published by Clean Teen Publishing on 01/07/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Heather McKenzie’s Website

Twitter

Goodreads

Book Review: Ms. Behave (Fandom Hearts #4.5) by Cathy Yardley

Ms. Behave (Fandom Hearts #4.5) by Cathy Yardley

A Romantic Comedy published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (09/30/18)

Summary:

After years of being away, Simon is back in his hometown of Snoqualmie while working on the hit TV show Mystics. 12 years is a long time, but some things don’t change. Simon’s best friend, Mallory, never left Snoqualmie. They were friends in school and are friends still, but is there something more growing between them?

Keywords:

Actor, Snoqualmie, Issaquah, Bookstore, Fans, Romance, Family, Loyalty, Sex, TV Actor

My Review:

This was a fun quick read. As always, Yardley’s writing style and story pull you in and you can easily finish this short book in a day.

I loved both Simon and Mallory. Simon is quiet and keeps to himself, even though he is an actor on television. Mallory was never understood growing up and even now is sometimes thought of as an outsider. She is accepted for who she is among her small group of geeky bookstore friends, but not everyone can accept that she’s bisexual. Simon always thought she didn’t like him growing up because she was only into women, but after finding out the truth, he won’t know what to do. I wanted to sock him over the head for being so dense when he found out Mallory was bisexual, since he can only think of himself in the moment, but eventually his winning nature shines through.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 09/30/18 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Cathy Yardley’s Website

Book Review: Electric Grids (Electric World Book 2) by M. Black

Electric Grids (Electric World Book 2) by M. Black

A Sicence Fiction/Cyberpunk Novel published (04/25/18)

Summary:

After finally escaping the Electric Gardens, Lexi and her friends find a post-apocalyptic world on the outside of the Tins’ compound. They don’t have time to stop and admire the wasteland because they are being pursued by the Tins. With a Tin of their own, they have a destination in mind, to find the other enlightened Tins and band together.

Keywords:

Science Fiction, Robotics, Apocalypse, Technology, Dystopian, Teenagers, Strict, Escape, Rules, Secrets, Control, Power, Powerless, Desperation, Friendship

My Review:

Electric Grids jumps in right where Electric Gardens left off and pulls the reader immediately back into the sci-fi universe Black has created.

The idea behind the story was solid and intriguing. The concept of robots taking over the world is not new, but the details in Electric Grids come from fresh sci-fi eyes.

A lot of details are left out or glossed over and the writing style does a lot of telling versus showing. For instance, the birth of baby Seth happens nearly instantaneously and without sensory details one would expect with the birth of a baby in the middle of nowhere with limited medical supplies and no doctor.

This novel was published on 04/25/2018.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Amazon

Book Review: Tar by Taylor Hohulin

Tar by Taylor Hohulin

A Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction Novel published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (11/27/18)

Summary:

For as long as Brendan has been alive, there has been tar in the world. Tar infiltrated the world as an infection that took over the bodies of people who got too close to it. Tar attacks the body by hollowing out the insides and replacing blood with blight. There is no cure. Brendan has managed to survive as a salvager, trading his finds for a fitful night of rest in one of the converted hotels that offer safe shelter. The only protection from tar is to stay away from it and those infected, but as easy hauls dwindle in Brendan’s town of Newhaven he must venture to new places and take more risks. Brendan has never known a world without tar and he has become very good at avoiding it, until one day when another gang of salvagers bumps into him. That same day, Brendan runs into another stranger who believes that Brendan is the key to ridding the world of every last speck of tar. If Brendan believes this stranger and goes with him on this quest, would he be better off without a world of tar?

Keywords:

Cyberpunk, Evil, Tar, Post-Apocalyptic, Survival, Mistrust, City, Infection, Distance, Monsters, Avoidance, Salvage, Shelter, Ruin, Power

My Review:

Every book I’ve read by Taylor Hohulin is better than the last. The writing style sucks you into the first page. Being thrust into the middle of an action sequence keeps you reading past the first page. The world Hohulin has built keeps you reading through to the end of the first chapter. By then you are hooked and you haven’t even gotten to the good part yet.

The three main characters were fully developed and had such distinct personalities and backstories. They all felt so alive and real. Brendan does everything he can to stay alive down to the careful skepticism of every stranger, acquaintance and even friend. He doesn’t let down his guard. Almost all his actions are propelled by his strong will to survive. He is one of the most selfish people you will read about. Hohulin cleverly builds Brendan’s character throughout the book, showing us just how far he will go to survive and then puts Brendan into a position where he will have to make a difficult choice. Is there an alternative? Can Brendan make this kind of decision? As a reader, I was so hopelessly obsessed with Brendan and the way he approached the apocalyptic world he lives in, that I finished this book in less than two days.

I loved Krystal! She was the empathetic do-gooder who was easily taken advantage of, always looking for the good in people. And yet, years and years after the apocalypse, she still survives. She is the opposite of Brendan in so many ways and yet they are friends. She is smart and tech-savvy but also the voice of reason and humanity for Brendan. Will she be able to influence him enough that he can set aside his own will to survive and help others or will he finally prove to her that the world is a terrible place?

What is tar? It is more than a simple alien substance. It creates the worst monsters out of people. It is a substance that zombifies its host, but also sticks to inanimate objects, waiting for any victim to walk too close.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on 11/27/18 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Taylor Hohulin’s Website

Twitter

Goodreads

Book Review: Winds of the Forest (Forestborn Book 1) by Dele Daniel

Winds of the Forest (Forestborn Book 1) by Dele Daniel

A Dystopian Novel published through Amazon Digital Services LLC (12/26/17)

Summary:

Genesis Romunda is from the Arnazuri tribe in the post-apocalyptic West-African kingdom of Navia. She is an elite hunter like others in her community, but her tribe is considered the lowest of the four tribes in Navia. Historically, Arnazuri have always been subservient to the other tribes, providing meat for the others and only getting scraps in return. Some in Genesis’s tribe believe that this is an inequality that should not exist and start a rebellion. Genesis believes that a rebellion will only lead to trouble and death. To Genesis, young at 17, if the Arnazuri have always been a lower caste of society, then that is the way of things. But the rebellion brings about many changes, not just a negative response from the tribes in power but also a progressive response. Genesis is chosen as one of the first females and the only Arnazuri in history to go to an elite school for gifted children. Genesis has mixed feelings about being chosen to go to this elite school and leave her tribe in turmoil behind, but in her new home and new school she will discover that not everything she believed is true.

Keywords:

Surviving, Forest, Tribe, Power Imbalance, Politics, Power, Hunting, Death, Murder, Rebellion, University, Chosen, Gender Inequality, Racial Inequality, Romance, Escape, Prophecy, History, West African Kingdom, Status Quo, Role, Government, Roommates, Rules, Curfew

My Review:

Like many post-apocalyptic novels, the remaining humanity is forced to live in a small portion of what’s habitable of earth. One of the first reasons I took to this novel was due to its setting. It’s not North America, nor is it a common setting for most books I read. This book was set in a modern day West Africa. Already off to a good start, the book showed me a more diverse post-apocalyptic culture than most dystopian fiction.

I was conflicted about Genesis. At times I liked her, and at other times I didn’t. In the beginning of the novel she is very attached to her sense of the world, her opinions, and her beliefs which I absolutely love. She is a protagonist who can influence her immediate environment, even in a tribe that is considered less valuable and less smart than the other tribes. There doesn’t seem to be any gender inequality in her tribe. She can hunt like her male friend Remington and she can fight him on equal footing. When Genesis’s world is put into chaos and she is told that she is going to Promenade, the elite school outside of her own community, I was elated. Now we get to see her among the peers even she considers better than herself. Perhaps we will be shown that her beliefs are wrong, that the world’s beliefs are wrong, and everything will change. But this is not so. Genesis, as an Arnazuri, lives in a third world setting compared to the other tribes and has no realistic hope of being their equals in knowledge and experience. She also doesn’t show a great capacity to learn (is never shown excelling in classes) and is even duped by those around her. She is like a passenger in her own story. Not only that, but there is also an element of gender inequality and discrimination outside of Arnazuri that I didn’t think was necessary and made me frustrated.

This book’s plot was inconsistent and some of the plot points felt incongruous with the rest of the writing. For example, Genesis gets caught out after curfew and this creates a conflict that pulls the plot along. This part never felt genuine and also showed Genesis to be air headed and sloppy. Because the book felt like it lacked an outline and the writing style itself was a bit clunky, it took me weeks to finish. I did want to finish and find out what happened as the author had created enough intrigue with his clever use of Jason’s inner knowledge (I won’t say of what because it would be a spoiler).

This novel was published through Amazon Digital Services LLC on 12/26/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:

Twitter

Goodreads