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

Book Review: A Sudden Gust of Gravity by Laurie Boris

A Sudden Gust of Gravity by Laurie Boris

A Romantic Suspense Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (11/07/15)

Summary:

Christina grew up practicing magic tricks with her father the magician, but now she is a mid-twenties waitress. She is a bit anxious to get on stage after what happened to her father. It is also nearly impossible to pick up a gig as a female magician. After an impromptu visit to a magic shop, the opportunity to work as the assistant to Reynaldo the Magnificent drops into her lap. Should she take the job? Will being a pretty prop to a some other magician even lead to her own career in magic?

Keywords:

Magic, Magician, Magic Shop, Assistant, Juggling, Act, Performance, Street Magician, Practice, Public Park, New Relationship, Struggles, Art, Male-Dominated Career, Sleight of Hand, Anxiety, Doctor, Talent, Ego, Showman

My Review:

This book packed a punch! I love a book that I emotionally react to, even if that emotion is frustration. I was frustrated with Christina for giving up on a dream. I was frustrated with Christina for then pursuing that dream, but getting sidetracked. I was frustrated with the magician. I was frustrated that Christina was not accepted as a female magician. I was frustrated that Christina had to be a pretty prop in order to be a magician’s assistant. I was frustrated with Reynaldo. I was so frustrated that I kept reading with a mad intensity, completely engaged in the very real characters and the developing story.

The characters were mesmerizing. Christina was so strong and such a great lead; however, her flaws pushed her into questionable decisions. Why would she stay with Reynaldo? Boris shows us the progression of a relationship from attraction to dissolution so realistically and so well. Reynaldo was such a unique character as well. We had glimpses into his mind now and then that were so fascinating. Why would he do the things he did to Christina? Devon, the Korean-American medical student was the crack in Reynaldo and Christina’s relationship, that kept pushing and pushing. Devon’s relationship to his nephew was such a relief to read after Reynaldo and Christina, like a breath of fresh air.

Though this book presents a love triangle, it is done so cleverly that you feel like you are reading some fresh new type of romance.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 11/07/15 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Laurie Boris’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Continental Divide by Linda Jordan

Continental Divide by Linda Jordan

A Women’s Fiction Novel published through Metamorphosis Press (9/14/18)

Summary:

Haley and her daughter Trixie move back to Montana with all their belongings fitting into one little car. Haley has moved her daughter too many times to count and her career and her daughter have suffered for it. Now, moving back in with Haley’s mom, hopefully stability will come back into their lives. With the Blackfoot River rising to flood levels, Haley’s ex following them, and a whole new life at the Montana B and B, life still isn’t stable for the single parent and silent daughter. Maybe this new adventure won’t be as unbalancing as it seems.

Keywords:

Single Parent, Horses, Farm, Single Mother, 12-Year Old, Daughter, New Beginnings, Grandmother, Flooding, Bank Robber, Home Cooking, Websites, Technology, Bed and Breakfast, Trauma

My Review:

Jordan’s writing style flows with an ease that is a pleasure to read.

I was conflicted on my thoughts of the genre and plot. This book was too simplistic to be women’s fiction. It had the simplicity of a chick lit beach read, but the romance element was not the focal point. The book was more about family and moving on and the great community of a small town than a romance. I rather enjoyed the small town feel and the relationship between Haley and her mother and Haley and her daughter. Perhaps this book would have made more sense as young adult and told through the daughter’s viewpoint. Shifting between Haley and Mabel’s viewpoint confused me even further in regards to the genre and the plot as Mabel’s story didn’t tie into the main story enough. Mabel’s story was more of a subplot and it felt like there were two distinct stories. I was quite fascinated by Mabel and her story as well as with Haley and her story. I think that I would have liked to have Mabel’s story separated from this book and given its own novel.

I absolutely loved all the descriptions of food and Winnie’s diner sounds like a place I would like to go. I also really enjoyed the fact that Haley is in technology and is a great website developer. I like seeing women thrive in typical male-dominated jobs.

Mabel’s story was not tied up enough in the end and Haley’s story concluded rather sharply and without the big aha moment that had been building up throughout the novel. I liked Sam’s ending, and of course how much Trixie opened up as the story went along.

This novel was published through Metamorphosis Press on 9/14/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

Linda Jordan’s Website

Goodreads

Book Review: Sunlight 24 by Merritt Graves

Sunlight 24 by Merritt Graves

A New Adult Science Fiction Novel to be published (10/03/18)

Summary:

“You need power to be heroic, but there’s no way to get it if you’re shackled. So, you have to start as the villain, grab the power, and then put the shackles on.”

Dorian Waters, along with the majority of humanity, cannot afford the nano-implants and genetic augmentations that are now available. Without Revision, Dorian, will never be as smart, as fast, or as good at anything as those who can afford to Revise. He, along with many others, is fast being left behind. Not only can he not compete in the same sports leagues, but he is fast losing any prospects for a job, a career, or a worthwhile life. And that’s no way to live. But Dorian has one trick up his sleeve. All he needs to do is get enough money to Revise and then the smarts that come with that upgrade will help him buy more Revisions. All he needs is that first push, that first bit of cash, to get him started. After that first Revision, there’s no going back and it’s like Dorian has pushed himself down a steep slope and with every passing moment, every little Revision, the momentum pushes him further and faster toward the bottom. And there’s no stopping, only an imminent impact.

Keywords:

Upgrade, Genetic Manipulation, Genetic Augmentation, Implants, Speed, Robberies, Thefts, Criminals, Mastermind, Choice, Self-Enhancement, Anxiety, Worry, Regret, Unravel, Police

My Review:

Ethan is the partner in crime – willing to take everything to its farthest – which makes him the greatest partner, but also the worst in the end. Ethan will pull Dorian in, but he will also pull him in so far that neither of them will be able to crawl back out.

Dorian is smarter than he gives himself credit for and he gives himself enough quite a bit of credit. It’s just not enough to compete with the Revised… Being your best and trying your hardest isn’t enough because the rich kids can purchase better genes and are suddenly twice as good without even trying.

I fell in love with more than just the characters. Their situations and how they felt about their own lives was so tangible, so real that I empathized with them and their actions. Dorian IS a good guy. He spent five years trying to help a guy who had crippling anxiety. He spent years helping his brother pretend to be empathetic and cope with who he is.

I didn’t know what was coming, but I knew something was coming. Something big that was going to blow everything up for Dorian. The ending was everything I wanted it to be and more.

I was so intrigued with everything Jaden… Jaden is this black hole that is drifting closer to planet Dorian, ready to swallow him up.

I loved all the little details of this book and can’t wait to read more by Merritt Graves.

This novel will be published on 10/03/2018

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

NetGalley

Book Review: Alfheim Seoul (Magic Parcel Service Book 1) by Chris Coleman

Alfheim Seoul (Magic Parcel Service Book 1) by Chris Coleman

A Coming of Age YA Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (06/12/18)

Summary:

Alecia is 15 and doesn’t want to get a job. Thankfully, she can always help out at her grandpa Dan’s Asian imports store to make some extra cash.

Out with friends one day, Alecia smells a faerie ring. Then she chances upon an otherworldly creature who is in danger. Magic is suddenly a part of her world and Grandpa Dan hasn’t been up front with her about what he knows about magic…

Keywords:

Magic, Fae, Portal, Asian, Travel, Chase, Evil Magic, Police, Escape, Student, Friendship, Soul, Coming of Age, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

My Review:

Alecia is a likeable character. She’s up front about what she’s thinking and what she’s doing. Her faults, like jumping into things without thinking, make her a more interesting character.

The plot and the writing style were easy and simple. This book was a fun and short adventure with a diverse cast that included non-humans. I liked that the main character and those that surrounded her were Korean and there were subtle hints at her diversity and uniqueness that blended into the story and the character.

I love that this story is set in Seattle! I loved the use of the portal between Alfheim and Seattle and thought every interaction with Iveragh brilliant in relaying backstory and showing us who Alecia was and what Alecia was like.

Alecia is 15 and the story is marketed for young adults, but I thought the writing style and simpler plot were written for a younger, more middle grade audience.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on 06/12/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Chris Coleman’s Website

Book Review: Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves

Lakes of Mars by Merritt Graves

A Space Opera Science Fiction Novel to be published (09/04/18)

Summary:

“There was so little I understood about this place. It all felt like I was teetering on the edge of a nightmare.”

“What kind of worlds would there be if people invented monsters and no one tried to stop them?”

Aaron expected to be sent to the rim; he expected to die. Instead, Aaron is assigned to Corinth and some other luckless foot-soldier assigned to the rim as a fatality statistic. Corinth is a training ground for students and home to some of the most elite scientists. The first rule of Corinth is to not break the rules, but Aaron and the other new students don’t even know the first rule yet. The superiors look the other way when certain rules are broken, but come down hard on those in their way and it won’t take long for Aaron to stick his nose out too far.

Keywords:

Science Fiction, Space Opera, Death, Planet, Colonize, Friendship, Fighting, Points, Blood, Classes, Science, Lab

My Review:

I was instantly sympathy with the main character, Aaron. Even though he chose his fate to be a suicide, an act of intervention (that we learn the details about later), gives him a kick in the butt to do otherwise with his life. It’s the camaraderie with the other students at Corinth and the sticking up for Sebastian that helps to show him that he wants to live. That he has something to fight for. Aaron spends a lot of time with his inner thoughts and turmoil regarding the morals in the choices he will make. I was right there with him, analysing the problem, and trying to find a solution where people wouldn’t die. It never felt black and white, I was torn about it as much as Aaron.

The lingo for the fights is above my head, but I could feel the excitement and follow the big picture. The specific tech lingo gave the scenes more authenticity, especially within the science fiction genre. My vocabulary; however, was challenged, in a good way. The writing style was smooth, yet complex. I was only confused by the time jumps with chapters.

The classes and the professors appeared authentic, and the information was delivered scientifically and logically. I felt like those classes truly exist somewhere in a universe somewhere. On that note, the world building was incredible.

The plot was built layer by layer into a flawless stack-up that slowly unraveled. Not everything was easy for the characters. They made mistakes. Wrenches were thrown in their plans. New developments arose. It was like watching a real life catastrophe unfold in slow motion. This book had one of the most suspenseful and well-written climaxes that I’ve read.

This novel will be published on 09/04/2018

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

NetGalley

Book Review: Under Ordshaw by Phil Williams

Under Ordshaw by Phil Williams

An Urban Fantasy Novel published by Rumian Publishing (05/29/18)

Summary:

“I avoided an ordinary life long enough for the extraordinary to corner me. Now I’m trying to do something about it.”

Pax Kuranes is a card player. She only works during the night, when a certain type of person is out and about. She doesn’t mind it. She enjoys her nights and her wins. With her current night’s winnings she hopes to get into a poker tournament and win big. But after a crazy spouting nonsense about a minotaur bumps into her and suddenly her winnings disappear, a mysterious man who wants to recruit her for a nearly fictitious branch of the government, rumors of monsters and creatures turn out to be true, Pax won’t be able to go back to her simple life playing cards.

Keywords:

Gambling, Winning, Money, Disappear, Fae, Fairies, Monsters, Sewers, Tunnels, Government, Ministry, Interference, Gang, Kidnapping, Family, Friendship, Weapons, Shooting, Escape, Life or Death

My Review:

The author is great at pushing the msytery early on while giving us just enough details to keep us interested as the story slowly unfolds. The language is complex and the writing style is excellent. I love that the main character is a female, but without any gendered baggage. Pax is just as sharp as the author and his writing.

I think Letty was my favorite character. She is hilariously rude. Her insults are snappy and creative. She is such a funny character. Letty is a kick-butt character who is uncompromising in her personality and I wish more female characters (good or bad) were like her.

Phil Williams has expertly mastered the art of description and sensory detail. This book was so masterfully written that I got lost in the scenes and the imagery.

As someone trying to learn better negotiating I appreciated the parts where Pax negotiated. I loved seeing negotiating in action.

Very rarely do I find an urban fantasy that is so good I can’t put it down. An urban fantasy any reader would enjoy. An urban fantasy that is well written. Typically I don’t even like this genre of fantasy, but Under Ordshaw was an amazing and shining example of a good book that happened to be urban fantasy.

I liked how the diverse characters had equal voices and equal stories. I liked how well developed the fantastical elements were and how vivid the descriptions of the beasts were. I liked How witty the dialogue was and how fast-paced the action was.

The writing is also sometimes as cheeky as the dialogues between Letty and Pax, kind of like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

This novel was published by Rumian Publishing on 05/29/2018 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Phil Williams’ Website