Book Review: Jump When Ready by David Pandolfe

Jump When Ready by David Pandolfe

A Young Adult Speculative Fiction Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (01/09/14)

Summary:

Henry didn’t mean to die. The afterlife is not how he imagined. He can still see the real world, but he can’t interact with anyone alive. Placed with a group of afterlifers, Henry must let go of life in order to move on. Henry might have been able to let go of his past life if he didn’t witness his sister getting kidnapped!

Keywords:

Death, Teenagers, Suicide, Kidnapping, Chase, Punks, Friendship, Family, Letting Go, Moving On, Rescue, Accident, Coming of Age

My Review:

This book was a bit boring in the beginning until Henry’s sister is kidnapped. The action involved in the kidnapping sparks Henry’s storyline as he was floundering in the beginning. The afterlife Henry is part of is a Between Lives state and therefore between any real action and it’s not until his goal is revealed (save his sister!) that his own story becomes exciting.

I enjoyed how Pandolfe described death. Given many names: afterlife, between, death, etc, this state of being and place was interesting and well-described. This semi-fantasy aspect of world building was intricate and with a set of rules that were fascinating to read about.

If this book had started closer to the kidnapping, it would have been a much more exciting, engaging, and higher-rated novel but as it is (if you don’t mind the slow and lengthy buildup), it was a fun and easy read.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on January 9th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

David Pandolfe’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Wilderness Rim (Echo Falls Book 1) by Casondra Brewster

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Wilderness Rim (Echo Falls Book 1) by Casondra Brewster

A YA Fiction Novel published by Creative Word Lab (02/06/17)

Summary:

“But you have to realize that you don’t live in a vacuum. Everything you do will affect someone, or sometimes some thing.” (Kindle Locations 2840-2841).
CJ’s mother has been spending so much time at her café, that CJ feels ignored. She can’t find the time for their annual camping trip, but she can always find something for him to do at the café. Underappreciated, CJ decides to go camping by himself. His mother has, after all, taught him how to be independent, like herself. The wilderness isn’t just a fun camping experience when CJ has to use some of his survival skills to get by and he isn’t the only one out there. After stumbling upon a real live Bigfoot and some sketchy looking out of towners. It’ll be up to CJ to figure out what’s going on.

Keywords:

Sasquatch, Wilderness Rim, North Bend, Small Town, Locals, Friendly, Friends, Bigfoot, Wilderness, Camping, Survival, Skills, Family, Relationships, Illegal Operation

My Review:

I didn’t get into this book until halfway through and the real action had started. The mystery of Bigfoot was enough to keep me going, but it wasn’t until CJ left his house and went camping in the woods that the real intrigue of this story pulled me in.

I was super excited to read about Sasquatch and what an encounter with a Bigfoot might practically entail. This book delivered quite a bit of the hairy ape-like man and I’m ready to read on in this series and find out more about Bigfoot and how that will affect CJ’s life in the future.

I liked how realistic CJ was as a teenager and as a kid brought up by a good parent. He was polite and thoughtful, but also selfish and blunt. His survival more than 10 miles into the wilderness was fun to read about. I would have given up long before CJ. He isn’t afraid to be independent and that is so cool!

The cliffhanger at the end was well done and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

This novel was published by Creative Word Lab on 02/06/2017 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.75

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Photos from the book launch party!

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Book Review: Reclaim (The Harvest Saga Book 3) by Casey L. Bond

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Reclaim (The Harvest Saga Book 3) by Casey L. Bond

A YA Dystopian Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (06/01/15)

Summary:

This ending to the Harvest Saga will take Abby through the greatest difficulties she’s ever faced. Can she overcome once and for all and help her fellow Lessers into freedom?

Keywords:

Strength, Dystopia, Orchard, Apples, Apple Picking, Castes, Poverty, Female protagonist, the Special One, Infertility, Trains, City, Technological Advances, Weapons, Fighting, Resiliency, Harvest, Oppression

My Review:

There are now more powers than just Olympus hovering over the Lessers and Orchard. What seemed an ally is just a power standing by and waiting for their opportunity to strike. Or were they waiting by? This book’s plot is much more complex than it at first seemed and it was so satisfying to plunge into its depths.

This was a fantastic ending to the Harvest Saga and worth the read. I finished the entire trilogy in less than a week. Thanks Casey L. Bond for a thrilling ride. I will definitely be reading more of your books.

Dystopian literature has saturated the market, especially books with strong female leads, but the Harvest Saga is so well written and fantastically engaging that it draws you right in and you don’t even notice that you’re reading another dystopian female-protagonist book, you’re too busy turning pages.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on June 1st, 2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Resist (The Harvest Saga Book 2) by Casey L. Bond

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Resist (The Harvest Saga Book 2) by Casey L. Bond

A YA Dystopian Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (07/31/14)

Summary:

“Trust was earned, and they’d broken too many promises, told too many lies.” (Kindle Locations 7574-7575).

Abby is headed to the Greater city of Olympus with Crew. His lies and betrayal cause strain between them as Abby sees what is really going on with the “Harvest” and all the Lesser women that were taken from Orchard and the surrounding Lesser cities. When Abby gets out of Olympus, things aren’t much better in Orchard as anyone who speaks out is taken away for resistance. Resistance is coming, but in the meantime Abby must lay low.

Keywords:

Strength, Dystopia, Orchard, Apples, Apple Picking, Castes, Poverty, Female protagonist, the Special One, Infertility, Trains, City, Technological Advances, Weapons, Fighting, Resiliency, Harvest, Oppression

My Review:

This middle book in the trilogy flew by! I learned so much more about Crew and what the Greater cities were like. The oppression of Lessers isn’t restricted to Lesser cities, for of course Lessers are needed within Olympus as well. Just as oppression builds, so must resistance! This book is full of the mindsets that will lead to this resistance, even though it does look mighty bleak. What can unarmed lower-class citizens do against well armed and technologically advanced Greaters? Read to find out…

The characters, especially those surrounding Abby are given more depth in this book. I still can’t decide if I like Crew or not, if he’s truly a good person or not. I fear he will have to make a choice eventually and this will show for good whether he’s a good person, but I’ll have to wait to see. I was much less interested in Kyan than Crew in this book, but both are playing an integral role in Abby’s life and the greater plot and dilemma between Orchard and the Lessers and the world that they live in.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on July 31st, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Reap (The Harvest Saga Book 1) by Casey L. Bond

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Reap (The Harvest Saga Book 1) by Casey L. Bond

A YA Dystopian Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (03/15/14)

Summary:

In a society where people are divided into castes, Lessers and Greaters, Abby lives as a Lesser in a Lesser village: Orchard. Her life is simple: harvest from the orchard and work every day for the Greaters’ Good. She is content. She has her best friend Kyan and Lulu, the aunt that raised her. But the next harvest is too much for Orchard alone and more Lessers from surrounding villages are called in to help. Abby starts to fall for Crew from Cotton, but he isn’t all that he seems. Something is going on in Abby’s world and she’ll have to work out her feelings as well as work out what’s going on in Orchard.

Keywords:

Strength, Dystopia, Orchard, Apples, Apple Picking, Castes, Poverty, Female protagonist, the Special One, Infertility, Trains, City, Technological Advances, Weapons, Fighting, Resiliency, Harvest, Oppression

My Review:

Like any other caste separated society in dystopian literature, Reap is the story of the special strong female chosen one, but the storytelling and writing style are excellent and very compelling. They pulled me right in and I purchased the entire trilogy before I’d even finished this first book.

I loved all the details about the harvest and the apple orchards that really brought the town of Orchard to life. I wish there had been a bit more creativity and imagination in some of the naming, hence the town of “Orchard” but I was too mesmerized by the brewing trouble in town, the burgeoning romance between Abby and Crew, the complication that Kyan posed, and the greater mystery tied up in the Lesser towns.

I loved how Abby was strong, resilient, and stubborn to the point of stupidity. Her pride is so strong it overwhelms others. She is special for a reason, being both Greater and Lesser and not just in the right place at the right time, though that does help.

As with most YA books, I wish that females were not relegated into antiquated roles of society – the housewife and child bearer. Though the main character is the ‘strong female’ archetype, society at large is still somewhat sexist.

The ending felt rushed, but I didn’t much care because I was able to pick the story right back up with book two…

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on Marc 15th, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

Links for more information:

Casey Bond’s Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Survivor by Renee Jean

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Survivor by Renee Jean

A YA Novel published by Amazon Digital Services LLC (09/24/15)

Summary:

Sophomore Jasmine has a best friend and aspirations as a photographer. When she meets Tyler, everything melts into the background. He is everything to her, even when his behavior isn’t understandable or nice, but he showers her with attention, even demands it. Who is she to say no?

Keywords:

Abuse, Romance, Relationships, Attention, Bad Boyfriend, Charming, Lies, Dysfunctional Relationship, Family, Hiding, Best Friends, Pain, Domestic Violence, Survivor

My Review:

While I appreciate stories like Survivor, I felt like this particular tale was missing much of the important parts of a good story. When I think of survivor stories I think of Speak and how amazing that book is. This book, though it ended well, glossed through much of the action. As can be seen by the lack of dialogue, most of the action was told to the reader. The narrator was not as detailed or forthcoming with thoughts or emotions like I think someone in an abusive situation would be, even if they were negative thoughts and emotions. I never truly felt connected to the characters or the plot, though I was mad as all get out at Tyler and him getting away with his behavior. To that end, the ending was immensely satisfying and the climax contained all the tension that the beginning and middle were trying to reach.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services LLC on September 24th, 2015 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.25

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Book Review: The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack

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The Girl and the Clockwork Cat by Nikki McCormack

A YA Steampunk Novel published by Entangled: Teen (9/02/14)

Summary:

Street rat Maeko survives on the dingy back streets of London with her friend Chaff, her fast feet and quick thinking as well as the pocketbooks of others. Will her latest escapade ever end? Mae is in the middle of a mystery involving a lovable cat with a clockwork appendage, the son of a murder suspect and pirate, and a city-wide conspiracy.

Keywords:

Clockwork, Cat, Pirate, Friendship, Streets, Fleeing, Fighting, Stealing, Hunger, Poverty, Officers, Mystery, Death, Street Smarts, London, Jail, Teenager, Female Main Character

My Review:

The setting and main character were so vivid that I was right there with Maeko on the streets of London. Maeko was written so descriptively that I felt like I knew her. I sympathized with her because she’s compassionate as well as realistic. She didn’t have the greatest childhood, but she is clever and thinks of others just as much as she does of herself. She weighs pros and cons of any given situation she finds herself in and doesn’t just let her empty stomach lead her around.

The plot sucked me right in and was entertaining and detailed. The mystery was intriguing and I wanted to find out what was actually going on as much as Maeko.

The steampunk and language were spot on and well written into the story without being overpowering or overwhelming. McCormack is a genius with world building and writing a good story.

This novel was published by Entangled: Teen on September 2nd, 2014 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 5.0

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Nikki McCormack’s Website

Book Review: Sara Supernatural-Half a World Away by Tiffany Belcher

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Sara Supernatural-Half a World Away by Tiffany Belcher

A Middle Grade/YA Fantasy Novel published by Tate Publishing (01/19/16)

 

Summary:

Sara is back! She has lots of plans for a summer full of fun with Chris, her magical partner from book one, but alas his family is moving him across the world. An intriguing set of twins Sara’s age moves into Chris’s house and they want to be friends with Sara, but there’s something altogether not right about these two girls. Chris told Sara not to use her magic while he’s away, but she can’t just sit on her butt and do nothing when the twins and Jessica gossip behind her back about her. She must get to the bottom of what is really going on.

 

Keywords:

Magic, wishing, powers, female main character, lessons learned, school, immaturity, selfishness, greed, fitting in, twins, mysterious neighbors, evil plot, friendship, invisibility

 

My Review:

The best part of this story was the mystery with the twins that was continued throughout the book. I wanted to understand what was going on and I was super ready for the big reveal at the end! The twins were dynamic and kept changing their tactics. They were odd, yet almost fit in most of the time. They were socially awkward until they did something exactly like a teenager would, like gossiping and spreading rumors about Sara’s friends.

I loved how Sara was uncertain about the twins. She didn’t just believe their intentions and words, but she didn’t completely disregard them as friends. She kept them at arms’ length the entire time, taking what they said with a grain of salt, just like the clever teen she showed us she was in book one. But Sara isn’t perfect and her fault lies in trying to solve all her problems herself, getting deeper and deeper into trouble.

Sara’s two friends were also well written. The story had less of Chris than book one, but I didn’t mind because I was caught up in the mysterious twins and Sara’s rapidly growing problems.

I was surprised at the amount of dropped and missing words in this book. More than a handful of articles were missing from sentences, but the writing was still very readable, despite these typos.

This novel was published by Tate Publishing on January 19th, 2016 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

 

Links for more information:

Tiffany Belcher’s Website

Book Review: Backyard Dragons (Spirit Knights Book 2) by Lee French

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Backyard Dragons (Spirit Knights Book 2) by Lee French

A Fantasy Novel published by Clockwork Dragon (03/11/16)

Summary:

“Everything about her was different from every other Knight. She had a different build, a different weapon, a different sprite, and different challenges.” (Kindle Locations 2034-2035).

Claire is a Spirit Knight and even though she still isn’t accepted by everyone in the male-dominated group, she wants to show them that she is really a Knight. After she gets a dragon as her sprite and has won a weapon from the Heart of the castle, Claire is ready to begin training. But, before she can truly prepare, things start to go wrong. There are mysterious things going on and Claire and Justin must figure out what’s going on before it’s too late.

Keywords:

Spirit Knight, Fantasy, POV Change, Fighting, Responsibility, Unsafe, Strange Things, Horse, Trust, Hope, Death, Problems, Taking Charge, Discovery, Personal Sprite, Dragon, Friendship, Family

My Review:

I found the pacing good, the tension good and storytelling solid, but there were a few characteristics of this book I didn’t like. Justin felt almost like a villain when he was supposed to be supportive of Claire. There were a few scenes where his thoughts about his family were less than positive and that made me uncomfortable. I thought he was supposed to be the hero passing the torch to the new girl? I believe that there are outside forces that influence how he perceives the things he loves, but I wish he had remained the underdog hero instead of the villain’s assistant. Justin is your average knight, but even so, he was easily manipulated and seemed to get caught in the simplest of traps that Claire was able to figure out immediately! How can one be a Spirit Knight, when one is so easily undone! This did let Claire be the hero and this is her story. I did like that there were average knights like Justin and that he tries to be valiant, that he tries hard all the time.

I liked most everything about Claire. The scenes between her and the Heart of the castle were awesome! I loved how in every situation she found herself in, she didn’t give up, even if she had no real weapon. She wasn’t afraid to use her fists!

Dragons. Super cool. I liked how the dragon actually had his own backstory and personality.

I found the twist of the main plot to be obvious. The clues were so good that I guessed what was going to happen quickly. All new information led directly to this obvious ending, which was still satisfying even though I knew it was coming. It was the logical ending.

This novel was published by Clockwork Dragon on March 11th, 2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.00

Links for more information:

Lee French on Facebook

Lee French on Twitter

Goodreads