Book Review : Emerge

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Title: Emerge [Mer Chronicles 1]

Author: Tobie Easton

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Sysnopsis:

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk. So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right? That is, until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Emerge by Tobie Easton is one of those books I could easily dismiss as a 5 star read because it’s a YA book and call it a day. “It’s meant for kids” seems to be a popular mantra when it comes to explaining away plot holes and inconsistencies. I’m not going to do that, though, because as good as this book was—and don’t get me wrong, it was good—there were certainly some world building problems that dragged this down to a 4 star read for me.

First, though, let’s get the technical bits out of the way. The book was exceedingly well written/edited. I didn’t run into any obvious typos grammatical mistakes or inconsistencies. The narrative flowed well and at a steady pace throughout. I was engaged by the narrative voice from the very beginning all the way to the end of the book.

The cast of characters was colorful and for the most part, likable (except for Mel and her father) and overall, well characterized.

In fact, except for the way the mermaid’s anatomy and their homes were handled, I don’t have much to complain about. I know it’s easy to dismiss the mermaid aspects of the story because it’s a YA Fantasy novel… but I wasn’t buying it. The mishmash of fantasy and uncomfortably awkward way the mermaid’s transformation was handled made for a strange chunk of world building. I found it hard to follow along with how the mermaid architecture and the how the intricacies of underwater life worked. Maybe I’m being a nitpicker, but it didn’t work for me.

That aside, I loved the book. I loved almost everything about it, and I’m glad I read it in the end. I think it’d make a great addition to any mermaid lover’s bookshelf, and let’s be honest here… who doesn’t love mermaids?

Short Break – Computer Issues

Hello, ladies and gentlemen of blogland! Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that I’m taking a short break from blogging for (possibly) a few weeks. Obviously, I’ve talked about my previous, numerous, computer problems (you can read more here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,  and here) yup, there’re that many problems. Anyways, my computer has decided to randomly shut down these days at extremely inopportune times, and after a little testing, we’ve discovered that the power supply on my computer is dying.

At this point, there are programs I can’t run, and things I can’t do unless I want my computer to shut off (and possibly not turn back on), which puts a little bit of a hold on my work. I’m in the process of contacting the company my computer came from in an attempt to replace the dying power supply, but basically, what this means is, I’m probably going to be without a computer for a few weeks (maybe less if I’m lucky, maybe more if I’m extremely unlucky) while I wait for my computer to ship, be fixed, and then be sent back to me.  Le sigh. <-can you hear my enthusiasm?

So for now, I am on hiatus. I may or may not have access to a laptop during this time in which to do posts—but I’m not counting on it. I will continue to read and write up reviews (which will be posted as soon as I am able), and yes, feel free to send me new review requests, but I may not get to them in a very timely manner until this situation is resolved. Please have patience, and I will endeavor to do the same.

Book Review: Flight of the Wren

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Title: Flight of the Wren

Author: Atthys J. Gage

Genre:  Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, Magical Realism

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description / Synopsis:

“The Arcane Order of Carpet Flyers! The Sublime Society of Scudders! Didn’t you read the contract I sent you, Miss Drake?”

Sure, Renny had read it. Obviously it was some kind of joke. And this guy with the flakes of pie crust in his beard, he is obviously some kind of whacko.

But no. Parnell Florian is no whacko – and Maysa, the ancient silk-brocade carpet now rolled up under her bed, is no joke. It really can fly, and Renny’s life just got a whole lot more interesting. And when she meets the other members of the Order – her flock – life gets more interesting still. Most interesting of all is the boy called Stonechat, who seems to find her pretty interesting as well.

But when a vengeful rug-rider called Mistral kidnaps Parnell and steals the all-important Orb of Descrying, Renny and the ragtag flock of misfits must ride to the rescue – or else face an adversary who can control their very dreams. One by one, all the people Renny has come to care about fall into Mistral’s hands, and she must find courage and ingenuity she never knew she had.

A modern day fantasy that Publisher’s Weekly called: “A great combination of fantasy, adventure, and romance…an engaging and enjoyable read,” The Flight of the Wren is, at its core, a story of family. Estranged from her mentally-ill mother, bounced from one foster home to another, Renny feels no connection to anyone in her life. In her darkest moments she fears that she will never really care about anyone…only to find out that having someone you really care about can be the scariest thing of all.

And that sometimes the hardest part about flying is just learning to hang on.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Another great book by author, Atthys J. Gage. I read Flight of the Wren alongside my 12-year-old daughter, which, I’ll admit, probably wasn’t the brightest idea. Parents: There is kissing, sex, and profanity in this book. You’ve been warned. That being said, we skimmed over the questionable content, and still managed to greatly enjoy the book together.

As far as the technical side of the book goes, the story was, for the most part, written well. There were some typos, some poorly constructed sentences that we had to re-read once or twice, but overall, the pacing was solid, the main character was interesting, and the narrative had some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Was it perfect? No… but it was still good.

Obviously, things weren’t all rainbows and puppies. The romance was fairly superficial. Girl meets guy one night, and before you know it, they’re having sex and dating. It wasn’t convincing, and honestly, I wasn’t rooting for the couple as I should have. I didn’t feel invested in their relationship, and in the words of my daughter “those parts were boring.” I probably wouldn’t go that far, but I do agree that overall, I just wasn’t interested in Wren and Stonechat’s relationship. It was a minor part of the plot that tried very hard to be the majority of it.. and I think the story probably would have been better off without it.

There were a chapter or two that were for the majority, monolog’s of one character (Parnell & Raven) explaining things to the main character, that were long, and I probably could have done without. I’m not a huge fan of having to have a majority of the plot explained to me by a character. I just feel there are more interesting ways of handing over the information. To be fair, though, there was a lot of information that the reader needed to know in a very short period of time, so I kind of get it.

The last point of contention both I and my daughter had was the ending. It was depressing. There was so little explained in the book—so many open ended questions that had no answers, that when the book ended without even the tiniest sliver of hope to cling to, we were both left sitting there wondering why the book had just ended on such a sour note. It felt as if the author had skimmed over all the interesting parts of the world building—the wind sprites, the orb, who the next keeper might be, what really happened to mistral and stonechat, why Wren was found the way she was near the end of the book—all these tiny bits of interest that weren’t played out or explained that could have been. Instead, we got a sad ending shot of a depressed girl reciting poetry. Neither of us enjoyed the ending.

All of that aside, however, I have to make this clear: we enjoyed the book. For all of the bits we didn’t like, there were twice that many that we did. We loved Wren as a character – and Parnell. The battle scenes and the drama and tension stirred up by Mistral and his renegade band were exciting. There were hilariously laugh-out-loud funny bits, sometimes in the most tension-filled moments that had us giggling so hard that we had to stop mid-sentence to catch our breath. The book was good, and we enjoyed it. Was it perfect? No. Would we read more from this author again? In a heartbeat. If you enjoy YA fiction with fantasy, I would recommend that you pick up this book and give the author a try. I look forward to seeing how the author’s work evolves in the next few years—I think there’s a lot of promise here.

Free Fiction Friday #66

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #66! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays, every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting, and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre and on sale for less than $5. I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so that you can get a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense!

THE FREE

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Book Review: Spark

review-cover-sparkTitle: Spark

Author: Atthys J. Gage

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: 4 (4.5) Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

People are dying downtown, their bodies shriveled away to almost nothing. The police are mystified, and outrageous rumors are flying: flesh-eating bacteria? an experimental bio-weapon? mutant mosquitos? Fifteen year-old Francy Macmillan listens, but says nothing. It isn’t a comfort knowing that no matter how far-fetched the theories, the truth is even stranger.

For Francy, that truth wasn’t very hard to find. It followed her home from basketball practice one night, a floating bauble of light that speaks inside her mind and shares her thoughts and her feelings. Is it an alien wanderer fallen from some distant star? Or a shard of some divine entity? Whatever it is, it seems to like her. She calls him Spark.

But as their friendship grows, a disturbing fact emerges: Spark knows who is responsible for those deaths. With Spark’s help, it is up to Francy to stop them. Spark leads Francy into a strange alternate reality, along with her friends: beautiful Echo with the dragon tattoo; moody Brooke with the wicked jaw; and Owen Owens, the boy with the fascinating eyes who may just get around to kissing her one of these days—assuming the world doesn’t end first.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have the oddest feeling walking away from this book that I’m not sure I can even begin to describe. Spark by Atthys J. Gage was not what I was expecting, and yet it hit the bullet points of everything it promised.  Even now, half an hour after finishing the book, I sit here and marvel at what I just read in a strange state of confusion.

Technically speaking, the book was very well written. I ran across two typos in the entirety of the book, but the narrative was otherwise clean, easy to follow, and lacked grammatical mistakes. The dialogue felt natural, and the characters felt real. I liked them. All of them—even the mean-spirited sarcastic best friend. I was pulled into the story from the get-go, and never felt the need to skim, put the book down, or re-read. Francy, strange name aside, was a compelling and likeable character, and Spark, her light-ball sidekick was a curious—dare I say, “interesting”—little creature that kept me hooked until the very last page. (See what I did there, fellow readers?)

The plot itself… well, that’s where some of my confusion comes in. Don’t get me wrong, I –loved- this book. I really enjoyed it and was thoroughly entertained… but there were parts that were hard to follow. The pocket universe was, well, weird to say the least. Even having finished the book I’m not sure I understand what all was happening throughout those sequences even when I understood the concept of entropy. Frankly, my dissatisfaction (and why this didn’t get a full five stars) came down to the ending. The book felt unfinished. There was this sense of increasing tension throughout the book with the murders, the appearance of spark, and the pocket dimension that begged for a huge mind-blowing reveal and ultimate battle to save Francy’s world… and I felt the ending fell short of that. I won’t get into too much detail because SPOILERS—but it fell a bit flat for me. I was expecting more…. and then the end o the book came and went, and I sat back and went “Oh. That’s it?”

Does that change how much I liked the book? No. I enjoyed it, and I want to read more from this author… but on the same token, I’m seriously hoping for a sequel to help explain and further iron out what happened in Spark. It doesn’t feel done to me. Overall, I loved the book. It was both better, and odder than I expected, and I was entertained. Spark is perfect for young teens on up, and I’d have no problem handing it over to my twelve-year-old to read. If you like YA fantasy or science fiction with a little bit of romance and a whole lot of strange, I’d definitely suggest checking this out.

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Book Review: Masquerade With A Marquess

review-cover-masqueradewithamarquessTitle: Masquerade With A Marquess

Author: Cerise Deland

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Sophia di Contini risks her life to sail to England alone and slip into the homes of those she suspects stole priceless treasures from her family during the wars. Discovered by Victor Cameron, she agrees to search for her art his way even though she’ll live in his house, yearn for his touch, pine for his kisses….

Five years ago, Victor had to give up Sophia. Now he vows to keep her near him and to protect her from men who would destroy her. He’ll help her find her precious art even if he risks the chance she’ll steal his heart away…again.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I tried so hard to like this book. I am generally a sucker for historical romances, particularly from the Regency era, but regardless of how may times I picked up and set down this book, I just couldn’t get into it.

Technically speaking, the book was well written. I didn’t run into obvious typos, illogical behavior, or grammatical mistakes. The pacing, however, was extremely slow, even tedious at times. It seemed as if the book focused less on the romance aspect of the plot, and instead spent more time on the historical aspect of the time period. The narrative slogged through the complexities of the dialogue and character thought processes—often focusing entirely on the intrigue of the art theft and little else. At 50% into the story, almost nothing of significance outside of small talk between the characters seemed to happen and there came a point when I picked up my Kindle, read a paragraph, and said, “That’s it. I can’t continue reading this. I’m bored.”

And I was. So incredibly bored.

This isn’t the type of book I’d normally DNF. As I’ve said, historical romance is one of my favorite genres to read; I usually know that no matter the content of the book, I’m going to fall in love with it.

I didn’t love this.

I’m sure there will be people out there who eat this story up with a spoon. It is a story of passion, intrigue, and drama… but it just wasn’t for me. I expected a little more romance, a little less intrigue than what I got.