Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo

review-cover-cloud cuckooTitle: Cloud Cuckoo [The Never Dawn 2]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Following their shock discovery, Noah and Rebekah reluctantly return to the lower levels of The Ark. Isolated and apart once more, Noah struggles to remember what happened at the surface and suspects Mother has altered his memory.

But Noah’s attempts to unite the workers to rebel are halted when Mother begins The Purge. Her cruel, relentless trials bring Noah to breaking point as he fights to survive when faced by his worst fears. Forced to accept Mother’s terms after a month in Re-Education, Noah finally learns the truth about his people’s past that leave him determined to defeat her once and for all.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Cloud Cuckoo by R. E. Palmer was a great addition to the Never Dawn trilogy. Often after a good book, subsequent books in the series don’t always live up to the quality or the hype of the first book, but in this case, that definitely wasn’t true. My daughter and I read this book together and often found ourselves reading for several hours at a time, often into the wee hours of the morning. We were sucked into Noah’s world.

Technically speaking, much like the first book, I was given a copy that had quite a few typos/errors in it, but again, these didn’t bother me. None of the errors were jarring or subtracted from the story in any way. The writing was clean, concise, and easy to follow, and the story moved at a good pace. It was constructed in such a way that by the end of every chapter, I couldn’t keep myself from continuing on into the next chapter. I was drawn in.

Much like the previous book, the characters were a delight and the world building was expansive and well constructed. One of my favorite parts of this particular book, however, was the change in scenery for Noah. We got to see new parts of the ship. We got to spend more time with characters we hadn’t previously gotten to. There were the same old mysteries, but also a lot of new ones as Noah found out more and more about his world and the people in it.

Overall, I loved this book. I love this series, and my daughter would easily say the same. R.E. Palmer has become one of my new favorite authors. If you enjoy YA or dystopian stories, I would highly recommend you pick up this series and give it a try. You will not regret it. I am so excited to see what the third book has in store for us when it’s released!

Book Review: My Fair Assassin

review-cover-my fair assassin

Title: My Fair Assassin

Author: C.J. Anaya

Genre: Urban, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It’s not everyday a teenage girl is singled out for assassination.

Crysta has come to accept the fact that she is freakishly different. Her shocking white hair, creepy powers, and weird eating habits have prevented her from fitting in with her various foster families. Now that she is fully emancipated and providing for herself, she hopes that life will settle down and become something halfway normal.

Her hopes are shattered when a dangerous man with lethal intent breaks into her apartment, but this enticing stranger isn’t what he seems. Is he here to kill her or protect her from others who will?

My Fair Assassin is a romantic short story with elements of paranormal and urban fantasy woven in for an entertaining read. It also touches on social issues involving personal self-esteem and acceptance. Adults and teens alike will enjoy getting lost in the pages of Crysta’s story as she finally comes to accept who she is…or rather what she is.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Though perhaps a bit short, I enjoyed My Fair Assassin by C.J. Anaya. The book was well written—I spotted maybe one typo in the entire book, which is pretty fantastic for any book, traditionally published or otherwise. The writing was clear, easy to follow, and moved at a decent pace.

I will admit that the characters struck me as a bit under-developed though. It didn’t feel as though Crysta was a genuine 17-year-old, and given her upbringing, she seemed a bit too well-adjusted to be believable. She felt fabricated at times because of this, and older than she was meant to be. Jareth on the other hand came across as, well, a bit dumb to be honest. I understand that he was meant to be simply ignorant of the idiosyncrasies of human culture and language, but between his complete lack of understanding of the nuances of a language he seemed quite fluent in and his penchant for bowing to Crysta’s will, he came across as a bit of a pushover, and maybe even a little air-headed. Also, despite his proclivity for speaking Gaelic, we never actually heard him even hint at using his professed favorite language. Outside of the two main characters, we barely saw any other characters in the story, and the ones we did see (Crysta and Jareth), didn’t seem well developed.

That being said, I did enjoy the story, and despite the flaws, I found with the characters, I did end up liking them both. It was hard not to enjoy their relationship. The world building, though not heavily delved into, was interesting, and I especially liked the plot. Overall, it was a quick, fun, read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a shorter story that isn’t too heavy or gritty with its world building. It’d make a great sunny afternoon read for someone looking to while away a few hours. I do wish the book had been developed a bit more, and I think if it had been, the book probably would have easily made a full-length novel, but for what it is, I found it entertaining and enjoyable.

Free Fiction Friday #73

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #70! For those of you who are new to this blog, or 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 have 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 them is: YA Fantasy/Coming of Age!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

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Book Review: The Never Dawn

review-cover-the never dawnTitle: The Never Dawn [The Never Dawn 1]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction, Mystery

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

All his young life, Noah has longed to see the sky he’s only heard about in stories. For over one hundred years, Noah’s people have toiled deep beneath the Earth preparing for The New Dawn – the historic day when they will emerge to reclaim the land stolen by a ruthless enemy.

But when Rebekah, the girl of his forbidden desire, discovers a secret their leader has been so desperate to keep, Noah suspects something is wrong. Together, they escape and begin the long climb to the surface. But nothing could prepare them for what awaits outside.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

The Never Dawn by R.E. Palmer was so much more than I ever expected. The writing was clear, concise, easy to follow, and flowed at an easy pace. There were quite a few typos in my copy, but I’m honestly not that upset about it. None of the errors were enough to jolt me out of the story.

The characters were interesting and at times, painfully naïve, but their naiveté is also what made them so fascinating. The world Noah and his dorm-mates inhabited was so well crafted, and the characters so well defined, that it was impossible not to get sucked into their monotonous life. There was a lot of mystery surrounding the Ark and the lives of the people there and it kept me reading.

In fact, I liked it so much that at the end of chapter 12, I put the book down and restarted reading the entire book with my 13-year-old daughter—and when we stopped reading at 50% so she could go to bed… I sneakily read the rest of the book on my own. I then read the second half of the book a second time with her the next day.

If you like post-apocalyptic, dystopian, YA, or mysteries, I would highly recommend you invest in this book. I can’t wait to continue with the series! My daughter lamented last night that she’ll probably never find a book as good as this one again—it has replaced her favorite book. I am blown away that this author has gone relatively unknown for the past four years.

Book Review: Ignition

review-cover-ignitionTitle: Ignition [The Escaping Demons Saga 2]

Author: Stacy McWilliams

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Life has never been easy for Jasmine Johnstone, but failing for Nathan Stevenson brings a whole new level of difficulty. Since she arrived at his home he’s blown hot and cold with her, turned against her and revealed a deadly threat. He is sworn to kill her, and fights against his love for her more than ever, but he knows he can’t live without her.

As they run from monsters, and each other, can their love survive?

Time begins to run out and with new friends and enemies in the strangest places, will they learn who to trust in time?

With their love stronger than ever, but forces pulling them apart, is love enough to keep them together or will Nathan’s parents succeed in pulling them apart?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was a mess. Yes, a mess—and I’m being generous. I had some hopes after the first book that maybe this book would be better. Maybe the author would explain things, maybe Nate would somehow beautifully and tragically save Jasmine as to redeem their relationship in some matter. Anything… but what I got was an even bigger tangle of absurdity than with the first book.

The book was littered with typos. Missing words, improper grammar, misspellings, omitted words, even lack of clarifying punctuation. There were too many mistakes for a book that had a professional editor. On the plus side, the writing, for the most part, remained clear despite these problems and flowed along reasonably well.

My biggest problem with this book was the egregious amount of plot holes, obvious plot devices, contradictory phrases, and just the plain absurdity of what the characters were saying, doing, or thinking at any time. I literally broke down into hysterical laughter after about the 15th time the male demon love interest, Nate, shed a tear and Jasmine noted that she’d never seen him break down and cry before. REALLY? I cracked up laughing and exclaimed “Where have you been? He never stops crying!” Nate was constantly sobbing, breaking down into tears, or shedding a tear over everything. Their relationship was in a never ending loop that went something like this: “Baby, I love you more than anything, more than my life!” “I hate you. I never loved you.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I was protecting you! I love you! Please forgive me!” repeat ad infinitum. I lost track of how many times this cycle of love/hate repeated itself, but it was painfully predictable.

Also painfully predictable, was the number of times Jasmine tripped, fell into something, or got a head injury. The girl should have serious brain damage. More worrisome perhaps, was the author’s penchant for softening the blow of all the tensest moments by going meta and explaining what was about to happen. “I didn’t know then that…” became a common theme.

As the book wore on the writing got more and more absurd. Bits of information were thrown in to move the plot along that reasonably, the main character should have never known. She somehow learned magic and how to identify wild herbs out of nowhere when it was needed, even though she’d been orphaned and in the foster care system since she was little. When she needed to drive, it mentioned that she had taken a few driving lessons a few months before. When? When did this happen? She’d been living in the demon household for over a year at that point, and I really can’t imagine that they let her out to take driving lessons. She suddenly identified a witch trap even though until that moment, witches had never been mentioned in the books. She identified an obscure Japanese mythological creature by name even though she didn’t know they existed until that moment. It never ended. Things kept getting introduced into the story, and suddenly Jasmine knew what they were or how to deal with them “although she didn’t know how she knew”—and that was the best explanation we got.

At one point, we were even introduced to the fact that Jasmine had a little brother and sister… (which were never mentioned in the first book), that she somehow forgot existed. Soak that in.

Frankly, the book was badly written and a bit ridiculous. The romance between the two main characters was abusive—full of lies and physical abuse—and every opportunity Jasmine had to get away, she quickly went back on before the page was even over. She was constantly playing the victim, and it got to be both irritating, and after awhile, sickening to read. I honestly don’t understand how this book got so many 4 and 5-star reviews because it’s probably one of the most infuriating and repetitive books I’ve ever read. This is not something I would recommend. Period.

Book Review: Luminosity

review-cover-luminosityTitle: Luminosity [Escaping Demons Saga 1]

Author: Stacy McWilliams

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Jasmine Johnstone’s life was relatively normal until she was forced to live with the Stevenson family. As she stayed she found she had no choice but to battle mythical creatures. Strengths she never knew she possessed began to surface, surprising those around her. Her only chance of surviving the rising tide of evil was Nathan Stevenson. Could she really trust him as he fought against his love for her? With the world against them and time running out, would their love be enough to defeat demons?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Honestly, I’m not sure what to say about Luminosity by Stacy McWilliams. I liked it. The plot was a somewhat new idea, I was curious as to what was happening, and for a few short hours, I was thoroughly entertained—but that doesn’t mean that it was necessarily a good book.

The book was riddled with typos—and I mean a lot of them. There were missing words, spelling problems, even words that were used in the wrong context. Although the writing was fairly clear and easy to read, the plot left me baffled. Half the time I didn’t know what was going on and there were no explanations forthcoming. The “romance” between Nathan and Jasmine was painfully contrived and woefully neglected for the first half of the book. It felt like I spent the majority of the book watching this poor, orphaned kid getting smacked around by basically everyone she met.I lost count of how many head injuries she received, but I’d bet you it was over half a dozen—and she barely stuck up for herself, tried to run away, or otherwise defended herself in any manner. She never even actively tried to figure out what was going on around her, even though she knew something very strange and very bad was definitely going down. Jasmine was a punching bag.

So why did I like it? I’m not sure. I guess I liked it because I keep hoping that there’s going to be more explanation. I keep hoping Nathan’s going to do something risky and beautiful to save Jasmine’s life. It’s all hope. I’m going to keep reading the series, and who knows? Maybe something will be explained in the second book. This definitely isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you’re looking for something different and dark, and you have a high tolerance for confusion, you may be interested in this book. Just be aware that this one needs a high trigger warning for people who’ve suffered emotional or physical abuse. It’s going to make you mad.

Book Review: A Threat From The Past

 

review-cover-a threat from the pastTitle: Bentwhistle the Dragon: A Threat From The Past

Author: Paul Cude

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Adventure

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Part is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them.Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past?Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes? In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I tried to get into this book. It sat on my TBR list for two years while I picked it up, set it aside, picked it up again, set it aside… again. I just couldn’t get into it. I’m not a huge fan of high fantasy, to begin with, but it was clear from the outset that I was going to have a problem mostly with the way the book was written. To be honest, the writing was weak. There was a lot of the author telling his readers what was happening, without putting any effort into showing them the world so they could come to their own conclusions. The narrative was written in an extremely passive manner and was littered with cliché phrases.

In spite of its size the dragon was clearly agitated, roaring occasionally, scraping the large claws on its feet along the top of the rubble on either side of it, and banging its tail into the ground intermittently.

Why “in spite of its size”? That has nothing to do with the fact that it was agitated. Why are you telling us that it’s agitated, to begin with? Why not show us with the roaring and the scraping and let it speak for itself?

As the apparently inevitable drew closer, the sprinting knight managed to find a little more speed and at the spit second before hitting the tip of the flame, dived headlong towards the cobbles.

Why “apparently inevitable”? There were so many instances of “apparently” and “seemingly” just in the first chapter that I grew frustrated with each new reiteration.

“For all intents and purposes, yes,” said the knight.

Why not just say “Yes.”?

“I require no reward. I’m sorry for the loss of life and damage to your city,” the knight replied in a heartfelt manner. “I have companions who as we speak are making their way there with great haste to assist with what has happened this day, among them healers and engineers. I ask that they are allowed to help out as best they can, and also that you not address me as Sir, as I have not yet earned that title, but by my name: George.”

The lack of appropriate punctuation aside, the dialogue was heavily crafted and monologue-esque. It didn’t feel real. I kept pushing, but by the end of the first chapter, it was clear that the entire book was going to be written in this way, and I just couldn’t push myself to keep reading. When I start a story, I want to be gripped by it. I want to be pulled in and several hours later find myself staring blankly at the last word of the story wondering how I got there so quickly and why it had to end. I didn’t have that with this. There may be a reader out there somewhere (probably a middle-grade reader) that will absolutely love this story, but It isn’t for me. I’m setting it aside and moving on to something a little more thoughtfully crafted.