Review: You & Me Forever by Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas

A Sweet Romance Collection

 

Title: You & Me Forever

Subtitle: A Sweet Romance Collection

Authors: Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas

Genre: Short Stories, Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, New Adult

Year of Publication: 2017

Published by: Gryfyn Publishing

Rating: 3/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

You & Me Forever: A Sweet Romance Collection  written by Megan Linski, T. Ariyanna, Cindy Ray Hale, Pamita Rao, Amy Reece, Audrey Rich, Constance Roberts and Yesenia Vargas is a young adult (and sometimes new adult) romance collection comprising eight short stories and a novella ranging “from thrilling, to dark, to emotional, to wholesome.” (Loc. 71) The stories are arranged in alphabetical order by the author’s last name and they are written both by best-selling and first-time writers.I only read Pamita Rao’s Gates of Heaven which was a nice book, so, when I saw this anthology, I was really curious to see what it was all about. Also, this is one of the fewest new releases of this year that I read.

In Check Mate by T. Ariyanna (3.5 stars), Liz heard that a foster child has run off from the correction facility he lived in. When the assailant tries to hold her hostage after he crept into her room, Liz uses her self-defensive skills she has learned to free herself. Why has Rook run away from the facility? Will Liz give in and fall for the beautiful stranger? I liked Liz’s courage and composure in such a tensed situation and I’m sure that it suits her to become a cop like her father. The main theme of this short story is domestic abuse.

In It Was You by Cindy Ray Hale (3.5 stars), Aleyna McKenzie’s dream is to become an actress, but she only finds small roles as an extra, which help her pay the bills, but nothing more. However, her life is about to change when handsome actor Carson Peters comes into her life, befriends her and helps her understand how the film industry really works. This new adult short story, which looked more like a novelette, was very enjoyable because you can see how hard life is for aspiring actors to break the ice or receive an offer for a major role. I also enjoyed the romance because it was low-burning and realistic and I liked the contemporary elements found in this story: Aleyna loves social media and she has her own YouTube channel. The theme of the story is: follow your dreams no matter what and persevere even when things are tough.

In Taken Away by Megan Linski (3 stars), Rosemary McGowan and Noah Cash come from broken families, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become friends or even fall in love. “We both long to be free in a way that we never can be, free of our obligations from our overbearing parents and able to go out on our own into the world. If it was truly up to us we would take his bike and leave, drive to the beach somewhere and leave the old world behind us.” (Loc. 1828) Rosemary loves spending time outside in the open, while Noah is the bad boy who loves riding his motorcycle. One night, after returning from work, Rosemary is kidnapped by someone pretty familiar to her, but Nosh looks for them and he will not give up until he brings his girlfriend safely back home. What family secret will Rosemary discover? The story is a bit suspenseful and Rosemary has the courage to attempt her escape, but I also liked Noah’s determination to look for her. It’s a new adult romantic thriller story and the main themes are domestic abuse and family secrets.

In Forever Together by Pamita Rao (4 stars), Ava begins to fall in love with her best friend Liam. Should Ava follow her heart and confront Liam about their feelings or shouldn’t she ruin such a great friendship? I will let you discover how Ava will find the truth. It’s a cute young adult contemporary romance that will remind you of your first love, the sweetness and the anxiety that comes along with it. I know that it’s a predictable story, but I enjoyed it because it made me feel like a teenager again.

In A Thousand Stats by Amy Reece (3.5 stars), Charles Maddox is Madison Iver’s best friend since childhood. Maddie likes him, but she prefers to put him in the friend zone rather than to ruin such an old friendship. This is a young adult contemporary romance and its themes are friendship and unrequited love like in the previous story. Fortunately, this story isn’t just about falling in love with your best friend, but also about becoming aware that having a pretty face is not everything. Besides finding love, Maddie needs to focus on her future, on her career and stop being a people pleaser.

In When There’s Smoke There’s Fire by Audrey Rich (4 stars), Graziella Roberts is rescued from her burning house and brought urgently to the hospital. Daniel Stevenson, a boy from school Graziella secretly had a crush on, came to visit his brother Liam, the firefighter who saved Graziella’s life. Will this be the perfect opportunity or Graziella and Daniel to know each other better and to share their secret feelings?

In Down the Road by Constance Roberts (3 stars), Sophie and her friends are gone camping and drink a lot of booze. Rylan, Sophie’s a controlling and abusive guy, not like Blake who treats her nicely. Will Sophie have the courage to break up with the jealous jerk and give Blake a chance? It’s different from the other stories. The main themes are domestic abuse and unrequited love.

In This Is Not a Drill by Yesenia Vargas (3.5 stars), Max moved to a new school, but he felt out of place after his parents’ divorce. When a drill occurs into the school, Max and Lucy are lead to a dark classroom until the coach comes back for them. Why the school is placed on lockdown and who is the assailant threatening the institution? It’s an interesting story about family secrets.

Overall, You & Me Forever was a cute collection of stories and novellas. Though I’m not a big fan of the young adult books, I took my time to savour each story and I found something I liked pretty much in all of them. Besides, the repetition of a chapter in Cindy Ray Hale’s It Was You and a few editing errors, the stories were clean and well-written. My top three favourite stories from this anthology were It Was You by Cindy Ray Hale, in which I learned about what happens behind the scenes of a film or TV, series Forever Together by Pamita Rao, a sweet short story that made me feel nostalgic for the first time I fell in love and When There’s Smoke There’s Fire by Audrey Rich, a story about courage, survival and young love. These nine works of fiction also changed my opinion about short stories and made me crave for more in the future, stories not necessarily belonging to the young adult/ new adult genre.

Poll: Which of these series do you recommend?

Not long ago, I’ve posted a poll in which I asked my Romanian readers to vote for the next book I should read in the near future and I’ve noticed that the poll reached and engaged more people than any of my other posts. This really made me think a bit, so today I’m posting another poll with a different topic.

Now, I’m not very interested in reading the majority of popular series out there because I have a ton of books I want to pick up in my lifetime. Also, if a stand-alone or series is loved by a lot of people, chances are I won’t like it or I might find it meh. It happened many times before with some of the Indies and classics, so it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to find myself in a small minority of disappointed readers. I think that in most of the cases the story or the characters don’t click with me or it’s maybe the fact that I usually have high expectations of a book that everyone praises Moreover, I have a complicated relationship with YA books because I’m at an age when some aspects of a teenager’s life don’t impress me anymore.

Anyway, let’s return to the poll. So, I’ve picked up four popular series I’m interested in checking out and two modern classic series because I think that Harry Potter is pretty much a classic by now –  everyone has read it in their childhood, except for me…

So, if you want to help me decide which of the following series are worth my time, please don’t hesitate to vote your favourite books below and leave a comment with your thoughts on any of these series. In the case of clashing opinions, please be kind and respectful towards other readers! This poll allows you to chose multiple answers and it doesn’t have an expiration date, so you can vote anytime.

Which of these series do you recommend?

Which of these series do you recommend?

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Review: Enchanted by K.K. Allen

Book 1 of The Summer Solstice

 

Title: Enchanted

Author: K.K. Allen

Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Young Adult

First Published in 2014

Self-Published

Series: The Summer Solstice

Rating: 5/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite themes is family secrets and boy what a life-changing secret the protagonist is about to discover in the book I’m going to review today! Enchanted is the first instalment in K.K. Allen’s Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy trilogy entitled The Summer Solstice. In this novel, we follow Katrina Summer’s story, a teenage girl who is unaware of the special bloodline she comes from for almost sixteen years. After her mother’s unexpected death, Kat moves to Apollo Beach, Florida, to live with her estranged grandmother Rose, she has never met before, a respectable yet mysterious lady, who acts cold towards her at first, but things will change as they get accustomed to each other. As Kat’s sixteenth birthday approaches, she experiences strange visions and vivid nightmares whose hidden messages she’s unable to grasp.

At first, Katrina is an insecure teenager and she feels a little awkward in the wealthy neighbourhood she moves in because she used to live a modest life in a bubble her overprotective mother built for her in order to hide the truth from her. Kat was also in foster care for a while and she went to public school, but she was laughed at and considered a weirdo. As time goes by in Apollo Beach, Kat befriends Alec Stone, the cute boy next door who helps her adapt to her new life, but she can’t tell him anything about her visions or her secret powers because it would reveal the true identity of the inhabitants of the community. Encouraged by Rose and her friend Charlotte, Kat learns about the family history of The Summers and she’s trained to control her powers. Of course, like any teenager, Kat makes some mistakes that almost cost her life and her visions and nightmares gradually come to fruition like horrible prophecies or trials she must go through in order to show her ability to right the wrong and to become a better person. Kat will also meet a lot of outlandish people through her wealthy grandmother, who is an important figure in the community and most people admire her for her involvement in keeping the town healthy and safe. Kat basically enters into a period of transition from the quiet and uneventful life she has lived with her mother, to the one that leads to her life-purpose: “there is a circle of life before you and it all begins on the day of your sixteenth birthday.” (Loc. 999)

I know that this review is a bit vague, but you need to discover the book at your own pace and I assure you that you won’t regret a single second that you have read it. However, all I can say is that reading about the stories and legends Grandma Rose told Katrina gave me chills down my spine. To a certain point, I felt confused and my head was full of information which is actually a good thing because I felt that the author did her research well. Though Kat considers her grandmother to be a bit insane when the woman talks about the special powers her granddaughter has inherited from her ancestors, in the end, all makes sense and the only thing Kat has to do is learn to master elemental magic and accept her new identity.

The writing is beautiful, visual and full of colour while the story is suspenseful and a real page-turner that doesn’t let you put the book or your reading device down. The characters are well fleshed out, the situations are realistic with the exception of the visions and nightmares that torment Kat, which make your heart skip a beat; Kat and Alec’s relationship is sweet (not excessive like in other books) and you root for them and, you cannot help yourself but love Grandma Rose even when she is stern with Kat. Charlotte is also a lovable character, even more than Rose, because of her kind and affectionate nature that makes me think she is a mother figure to Kat.

In short, the experience I had with his book was amazing and besides a few editing slips, I don’t have anything bad to say about it. The parts about magic and the stories about The Summers’ family history and Kat’s ancestors are truly fascinating and I had to pause for a minute or two to take it all in. The descriptions of Apollo Beach and Tampa Bay were so vivid that I was transported there through K.K. Allen’s writing. I highly recommend this young adult contemporary fantasy novel to anyone who loves elemental magic, myths and family secrets. There are still some unanswered questions and some fresh ones at the end of this first instalment, but there are two more books to satisfy one’s curiosity. I would really like to pick them up somewhere in the near future.

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I actually had a book review planned for this Friday, but I changed my mind because June and July are two crazy months for me, so I opted again for a book tag which suits this time of the year. Plus, I’m always happy to talk about the current state of my TBR pile.

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag was created by two booktubers (Chami and Ety) and it comprises of fourteen questions, mostly regarding the books you read in the first half of the year. I read twenty-six books until now including the dnf-ed ones, so I think that I have enough material to answer properly to each and every question.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017.

This year I wanted to read all the first instalments in the series I own because I plan to continue only the series or trilogies I’ve found unique and enjoyable to explore further on. For the best book I’ve read until now I choose The Essential Book Blog by Ken J. Howe, Saul Tanpepper, Michael Guerini and Cheryl L. Seaton, which is an easy yet informative guide for each new book blogger or newbie author and it teaches you anything from how to build your own blog, what your review should include, how to get traffic on your blog, how to get books and even how to earn money through your blog. Personally, I can’t wait to review this blogging guide and reread some of the sections in order to apply them to my blog.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017.

 

At the beginning of this year, I promised myself that I will not be as generous as I used to be with the 5-star ratings and by far, there are just three books that had the wow factor I was looking for. The first 5-star sequel I rated in 2017 is Escape from Sudan, the 9th book in Mike WellsLust, Money & Murder series because I was on pins and needles while reading this book. It really was a roller-coaster of emotions for me and Elaine’s (almost impossible) mission through such a war-torn and dangerous country made my adrenaline levels increase.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

I’m not very interested in new releases for now because I have a lot of unread books sitting and collecting dust on my shelves and many eBooks on my Kindle too; so I prefer to stick to those.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

I read Mike Wells’ blurb for Panacea, the 11th book in the Lust, Money & Murder series, which is set in Ukraine and the book, is going to be released in September. This is the only sequel I’m excited to devour.

5.  Biggest disappointment.

 

Well, I have a few disappointments and dislikes reflected on my ratings and on my dnf-ed shelf, but the biggest one came from an author I haven’t read before. I’m sorry for the repetition, but I was extremely disappointed by Isabel Allende’s Zorro. How can a book about California’s famous bandit be so boring with so many info-dumps, lifeless characters and no hook? I loved the fact that Diego is mixed-race, but besides that, his friendship with Bernardo and how his father met his mother, I didn’t find anything of interest in the chapters I read.

6. Biggest surprise.

 

The biggest surprise was The Rocker Who Holds Me by Terri Anne Browning, a book which didn’t deal only with the dissolute lives of rock stars, but also with abuse, heartache and lack of communication. I really love it and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys rock star romances.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)

My new favourite author is K K Allen who wrote Enchanted, the first instalment in The Summer Solstice. Besides her beautiful and visual writing, I enjoyed spending my time with her well-built characters, the plot was extremely interesting and the elemental magic blew my mind along with its complexity. The ancient wisdom passed on to Katrina is a combination of Greek myths and Wiccan beliefs. For those of you who are wondering, the review is coming soon.

8. Newest fictional crush.

Nik from The Rocker Who Holds Me might be a potential fictional crush because he is talented, caring and a very hot guy, but he makes Emmie suffer a lot. On the other hand, she is afraid to talk about her feelings for him.

9. Newest favourite character.

I’m currently reading The Lady of the Pier trilogy written by Effrosyni Moschoudi and though I root for both protagonists of the two alternating stories, Sofia Aspioti is very dear to my heart, not just because she is Greek, but she is also a book nerd, a hardworking student, an animal lover and she also writes poetry. She is shy and very cautious because she is aware that everything she does might reach her strict father’s ears, an overprotective parent who forbids her to stay out late or to do anything silly. Despite the restrictions that suffocate her life, Sofia longs for freedom and adventure especially after meeting Danny, an outgoing and non-conformist British tourist whose laid back attitude makes Sofia fall for him.

10. Book that made you cry.

Though I’ve shed a tear occasionally when I read about Sofia’s kind and loving grandparents from Corfu who reminded me of my own, none of the books I’ve picked up in the first half of the year made me cry hysterically for a certain character or situation.

11. Book that made you happy.

 

It’s hard to say that one of my recent reads made me feel happy, but You & Me Forever is a collection of romantic YA and NA stories written by eight authors including Megan Linski and Pamita Rao, a book that made me feel good most of the time because the short stories range from sweet to dark and they are easy to read especially while you are travelling. I highly recommend it for the summer.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

I adore the new covers for The Lady of the Pier trilogy; they are so gorgeous and suit the novels perfectly with that beautiful and mysterious woman standing on the pier.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Besides the books mentioned above, I want to continue reading the two remaining novels from the Try a Chapter Book Tag and afterwards to flip through or even reread some classics I’ve read a few years ago, but I haven’t reviewed yet.

 14. Favourite Book Community Member

For now, I’ll give a shoutout to my best friend and awesome reviewer, Elena from eLitere.ro who has great tastes in books and movies. Check out her website and show her some love!

If you enjoyed this book tag, give it a try and leave your answers below in a comment or through a link to your blog or YouTube channel. Have an awesome weekend! See you next time!

Review: Wild Child by Mike Wells

Book 1 of Wild Child

A Teenage Sci-Fi Conspiracy Thriller

 

Note: Wild Child, as well as all of Mike Wells’ first instalments in his series, is a freebie!

 

Title: Wild Child

Subtitle: A Teenage Sci-Fi Conspiracy Thriller

Author: Mike Wells

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult

First published: 1998

Year of Publication of This Edition: 2014

Self-Published

Series: Wild Child

Rating: 2/5 stars

Here’s that time again when I post a review for a book I didn’t enjoy. As a side note, I devoured most of Mike Wells’ thrillers I read and he is definitely one of my favourite writers, but sometimes I happen to come across a book that isn’t my cup of tea or it doesn’t feel specific to the author’s style. So, as awkward as it may seem, I have to underline how I feel about the story, hoping that the devoted fans of the book will respect my opinion because we all come from different cultures and see the world through our unique perspective.

Wild Child is the first instalment in Mr Mike Wells’ eponymous trilogy and it’s A Teenage Sci-Fi Conspiracy Thriller, which made me curious to pick it up, taking in consideration the fact that the author usually writes series for an adult audience. In short, Kyle Dunlap and Briana Fox are two teenage friends who go for a swim in Lake Carlton, but Briana has a terrible boating accident and you would expect her to die. . However, she survives due to a mysterious green substance she finds at the bottom of the lake. After this drug-like healing water is tested, two government officials question Kyle about the location of this strange water that heals wounds and fortifies the body. Will Kyle give in and reveal the location of the mysterious pool of green water? And what will happen to Briana who can’t get enough of that strange substance?

Though the premise was interesting – the strange healing water that also acts like a drug – I didn’t feel invested into the story because the plot was a bit thin and the characters were underdeveloped. Briana is bossy, overly stubborn and rushes headlong into danger. I found her very annoying in the first chapters, but her wild nature calms down a bit when the effects of the magic water fade away. On the other hand, Kyle is quiet, cautious and more sensible than Briana, even though he acts a bit too boldly in front of the two government officials. And speaking of those two CIA agents, I think that this part of the story is a little far-fetched due to the lack of depth of the plot. Okay, I understand that this book is part of a trilogy, but besides a few suspenseful moments, which are characteristic of Mr Wells’ writing style, the story fell flat. The writing was okay and the descriptions of the lake and caves were interesting, but it didn’t do much for me. Though the book is around 100 pages, I got bored while reading it and I pushed through just to see if it gets better. The suspenseful moments and an ingenious twist saved the book from hitting the bottom of the rating scale.

In the end, those were the thoughts I wanted to share with you about Wild Child. I don’t know if I should recommend it or not because I didn’t enjoy it that much; but if you are still curious, you can check it out. Personally, I think that I will stick with the author’s adult series because they are more my thing.

 

Try a Chapter Book Tag

April has been an amazing reading month for me because I read ten (short) books, but they were mixed reads from the okay-ish to the most amazing ones. On the other hand, the beginning of May wasn’t that great because I enjoyed a single book and dnf-ed or even deleted two of them. Therefore, after two failed attempts to read two confusing cosy mysteries, I found myself wondering what book I should read next. Finally, I figured out that the best way to find out what book I’m in the mood for is by trying a chapter from a few books I’m interested in. I found the Try a Chapter Book Tag on Booktube, where you pick up five or more books you are excited about, read the first chapter of each book (including the prologue), you give your opinion about what you have just read and decide what book you want to continue reading. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? If you find yourself being in a reading slump or you just don’t know what to pick up next, feel free to give it a try. It’s actually useful, even when you want to get rid of unread books.

I cheated a bit because five books are too many for me, so I’ve picked up only four and those are:

  • You & Me Forever: A Sweet Romance Collection by Megan Linski, Pamita Rao and other six authors, which is a young adult romance anthology comprising eight short stories and a novella. I wanted to read something light and summery, so I thought that this book would do the trick.
  • The Lady of the Pier – The Ebb is the first instalment in Ms Effrosyni Moschoudi’s historical paranormal romance From this author I also read The Necklace of Goddess Athena, which is one of my favourite books set in Greece. I’m looking forward to reading this novel because I have a soft spot for Greece in general.
  • Song at Dawn: 1150 in Provence is the first instalment in a historical romantic thriller series entitled The Troubadours Quartet and it is written by Welsh author Jean Gill. This book has troubadours, romance, political intrigue and it is set in Medieval France, after the Second Crusade. Therefore, it should be something up my alley.
  • The Treasure of Gwenlais is the first instalment in M. T. Magee’s young adult epic fantasy series entitled The Rienfield Chronicles, a story inspired by Celtic folklore.

Here’s what I have to say about each chapter I’ve read:

Check Mate by T. Ariyanna is the first short story in the You & Me Forever anthology. In the first chapter, Liz and her best friend Daisy chat on the phone about a foster child who has run off from the correction facility he stayed in. Liz is the daughter of the chief of police and she is frequently asked by her classmates about certain cases, but little does she know what fate has in store for her. After the assailant sneaks into Liz’s room and tries to hold her hostage, Liz shows her self-defence skills and frees herself. I liked the way she stood her ground and didn’t feel intimidated by the strange boy who seemed to be her age. The story is suspenseful and I’m really curious to read more.

In the prologue to The Lady of the Pier – The Ebb by Effrosyni Moschoudi, Sofia recalls a strange dream she had a night before. She was standing on the pier where she worked, but the pier changed its size and it seemed like everything around her changed, a terrifying storm broke and in Sofia’s place stood a woman dressed in black who looked pretty much like her. What does this dream mean, who is that woman and why she was in pain? Meanwhile, in the first chapter, we move from 1987’s Greece to 1937’s England, where Laura Mayfield’s story takes place. Laura moves to Brighton with her ill mother, Ruth, who needed a milder climate for her weak lungs. I think this story will be a slow read, but the writing is beautiful and I enjoy reading about alternating timelines.

In Song at Dawn: 1150 in Provence by Jean Jill, sixteen-year-old Estela de Matin runs away from an abusive household, wants to start afresh and leave her old identity behind. On the road, she encounters Alénor of Aquitaine, the Queen of France, and her loyal guards, who were travelling from Carcassonne to Narbonne. They eye Estela suspiciously because she might be plotting a robbery with other bandits in hiding or she might be a thief because she carries a mandora, a musical instrument like a lute. After the queen orders the girl to play and sing a song, Alénor of Aquitaine invites Estela to come with them to the court. At first, this book was a little hard to get into because I don’t know that historical period too well, especially the politics, but the idea of a girl troubadour is something I’ve never heard of and I’m curious to read how Estela will get along with Dragonetz, the queen’s commander and her troubadour.

The Treasure of Gwenlais by M. T. Magee contains a prologue in which we are told who the most important characters are, which kingdom they protect or belong to, who are the enemies and which are the stakes of this first book. In short, Princess Laurel of Gwenlais is rescued from the claws of a monster by Caleb, Prince of Heathwin, “the Chief and Commander of the Sentinels who protected the two Kingdoms of Gwenlais and his own realm of Heathwin”. (Loc. 149) Meanwhile, the Sentinels lead by Prince Aiden gallop towards the village to kill the monsters (Rabkins) and to count the casualties. The first chapter is very long, so I paused when I came to a page break, but the novel is worth reading because it’s a high fantasy and it seems to have a complex world.

And here is what I’ve decided:

After reading the chapters and prologues, I decided to read Check Mate by T. Ariyanna because I like the suspense and the story is pretty short. Then, I think that I will choose Ms Jean Gill’s novel because I want to know what happens to Estela at the French royal court and how the past will influence her future.

Review: The Deep Beneath by Natalie Wright

Book 1 of H.A.L.F.

 

Title: The Deep Beneath

Author: Natalie Wright

Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult

Year of Publication: 2015

Published by Boadicea Press           

Series: H.A.L.F.

Rating: 4/5 stars                              

“I was provided with a complimentary copy of this book so I could give an honest review.”

The Deep Beneath is the first instalment in Natalie Wright’s young adult science fiction series entitled H.A.L.F., which was inspired by the Roswell UFO Incident, but the author took it to a whole new level.

In short, three teenagers (Erika, Ian and Jack) who were living a dull life in border town Ajo (Arizona), encounter an outlandish being named H.A.L.F. 9, who saves them after they are attacked by two armed strangers. 9 is a human-alien hybrid who escaped from A.H.D.N.A., an underground lab owned by the military and kept top secret by the US Government. Due to the gratitude the teens feel for the hybrid, they decide to return the favour and help him run even farther away from the people who created him and wanted to use him as a weapon in the upcoming alien war that will strike the Earth. From this moment on, a suspenseful action-packed supernatural journey unfolds in front of their eyes and the teens’ lives will never be the same again.

“I am H.A.L.F. 9, property of the United States government and a lethal weapon.” (Page 68)

Because this is the first book of the series, it’s clear that there are still unrevealed facets of the characters or undiscovered fragments from their past, but they were pretty well-built. There’s Erika, who wants to move out from her hometown in order to live a more exciting life, but she rejects Jack’s love because this might be an obstacle in her way to freedom. Ian is her best friend, the one who cares for her in a non-romantic way, and Jack is her love interest and the one who’s by her side and protects her when she’s hurt. H.A.L.F. 9 is the human-alien hybrid who tries to adapt and to understand the human world and he somehow develops feelings for Erika. Commander Lilly Sturgis is the geneticist who is in charge of the secret governmental program and she is the one who created the hybrids, along with Dr Randall.

There are multiple perspectives in this book (Lucia, Erika, H.AL.F. 9, Commander Sturgis and H.A.L.F. 10), from which we can understand the characters’ view of the world around them and the way they see other characters. The main themes are power, (lack of) humanity, freedom, friendship, poverty, love and hope.

To wrap it up, I enjoyed reading this novel more than I expected because the descriptions and the technological terms weren’t overwhelming, while the plot twists were worth discovering. Personally, I sat on pins and needles until the last page was turned.

Review: Dawn of Rebellion by Michelle Lynn

Book 1 of Dawn of Rebellion

                                                           

Title: Dawn of Rebellion

Author: Michelle Lynn

Genre: Adventure, Dystopia, Young Adult

Year of Publication: 2013

Published by Creativia

Series: Dawn of Rebellion

Rating: 3/5 stars

Ever since I’ve begun writing book reviews, I heard about books and genres which are popular among different categories of readers. Because I’m a curious person, I’m experimenting with various genres to discover what I like and what is not quite my cup of tea. Therefore; today I’m going to review the first instalment in Michelle Lynn’s young adult dystopian adventure trilogy entitled Dawn of Rebellion, which was sent to me by the author through Twitter.

In short, this is the story of two teenage sisters (Dawn and Gabby) who live in a dystopian and segregated version of London, where soldiers march on the streets, people are divided into three classes of citizens, and if you’re breaking the law, you are sent to the colonies to work in some kind of concentration camps. There, you are tortured or put to death in “the box” which made me think of a gas chamber. After Gabby steals a bracelet for her sister’s birthday and the authorities decide to send her to the colonies, Dawn along with Gabby’s boyfriend (Drew) embark on a risky journey to save Gabby. The adventures that await all three teens will shape both sisters and teach each one of them to develop sides of their personalities they didn’t know they had. They will also meet new friends and discover secrets buried in their past.

Though I have a complicated relationship with young adult novels, I admire the strong devotion and love the two sisters have for each other despite their totally opposed personalities: Dawn is quiet and studious, while Gabby is outgoing, confident and stubborn. The memories they have of their childhood and parents made me sad and sorry for the abandonment from their parents’ part and the way those memories are narrated broke my heart. This novel also gave me some strange vibe because of the constant presence of the soldiers, the gloomy atmosphere and pure terror lurking in the shadows. I found the adventures interesting, suspenseful and very realistic with all the beatings and the story of how the US lost its identity. The writing was pretty good, though I had some trouble understanding some British words I’ve never heard before.

The story is narrated through three perspectives (Dawn, Gabby and Drew) of which I personally preferred Gabby’s because she is more independent, stronger and more courageous than Dawn, but Dawn learns to get out of her comfort zone too with Drew’s and her new friends’ help. When it comes to romance, it’s not really the focus of the story, but this doesn’t mean that it’s non-existent. The thing that I didn’t particularly like was the moment when Drew couldn’t make up his mind who he really loved – Dawn or Gabby?

In the end, I have some mixed feeling about this book and about dystopias in general because they are not something I particularly enjoy reading, but, on the other hand, the author did a pretty good job depicting both the oppressive fictional British regime and the Texan rebels who still called themselves Americans.

Review: A Wounded World by Crit Kincaid

Title: A Wounded World

Author: Crit Kincaid

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult

Year of Publication: 2014

Self-Published by A Work Day World

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

The world has wounded this boy terribly, Marsh, and he can’t forgive it. He’s angry and obstinate and fears nothing— even and especially me. I just can’t make this boy see and act for his own good. He hides from the world in that bloody garden and paints the moments of his life, ignoring his past and thereby rejecting his future.(…)”  (p. 170).

What would you do if you lost it all in a terrible car crash and had to live with the haunting guilt that you weren’t able to do anything to save your loved ones from the cold hands of death? This is the story of Norman Albert Steves, the protagonist of the debut novel entitled A Wounded World, written by Crit Kincaid. Tormented by constant nightmares where the teen (who prefers to be called Normal) lives over and over again the terrifying last moments of his family’s life, the guilt and self-hatred, but also the acute feeling of loneliness that comes along with the pain and loss. Normal is stuck between his memories and his fears. If this wasn’t enough, the only relative the boy still has, Granny Rachel, who suffers from ALS, can’t take care of him anymore, due to her declining health. Thus, the teen is forced to face his greatest fears. How will this hypersensitive and talented boy cope with this world that always seems to hurt him and who will manage to bring him back into the light?

He’s like that graveyard cat, who hunts mice amongst graves at night and occasionally ventures out into the bright light of the living world. But even then, he stays in the shadows, avoiding contact, forgetting that his natural place is with the living and not with the dead.” (p. 186)

I won’t give away more details because this is one of those books where you need to plunge into it without knowing too much about the story. What I can say is that I felt a deep connection with Normal because anyone who lost a loved one in their childhood can relate to this boy’s story along with the fear of being abandoned or losing the loved ones who are still alive. There’s also the fear of the past and the temptation to run away from it in order to suffer less. There are also other situations that made me relate to Normal. For example, he was bullied at school because he stuttered, while I was laughed at because I was visually impaired. The paranormal elements are amazing and to be honest, if it weren’t for them, I would have given this book a much lower rating.

A Wounded World is a paranormal young adult book I highly recommend to anyone, regardless of what genre you love to read because any reader will find closure and a different message, depending on each person’s life experience. Young Adult books don’t usually appeal to me that much, but I’m impressed by how many themes and issues are intertwined and discussed in this book in a way that makes you pause and think about each one of them.

De Vorbă cu Adela de la Vanilla Moon Books

Cu puțin timp în urmă am descoperit canalul de Youtube al Adelei de la Vanilla Moon Books prin intermediul scriitorului Oliviu Crâznic, a cărui carte, Ceasul Fantasmelor, era amintită într-unul din filmulețele ei. Am urmărit cu interes mini-recenziile din vlog și am fost impresionată de stilul dezinvolt al Adelei de a vorbi în fața camerei și de vocea ei dulce și copilăroasă. Apoi i-am vizitat blogul (Vanila Moon Books), care, atât prin designul  său magic, cât și prin conținut, te va purta într-o lume fantastică.

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Cum s-a născut pasiunea ta pentru lectură?

Adela: Nu ştiu dacă se mai practică acum, dar pe vremea când m-am născut, unii părinţi le puneau în faţă bebeluşilor mai multe obiecte. Se spunea că obiectele alese de copil vor arăta ce va aprecia mai târziu, în viaţă. Eu am întins mâna spre un creion şi o carte. Toate astea mi le-a povestit mama când deja eram cititoare convinsă şi făceam încercări de poezii sau romane. Dar ca să îţi răspund concret la întrebare, am început să citesc de la 6 ani şi jumătate, după ce am învăţat singură să citesc. Toţi membrii familiei citesc şi mi se părea un mod firesc de a petrece timpul liber.

Cum ai descoperit comunitatea BookTube?

Adela: Acum vreo patru ani, cred, a distribuit cineva pe Facebook un clip amuzant al lui CassJayTuck, o parodie despre poziţiile de citit. Am dat „Subscribe” ca să fiu la curent cu ce videoclipuri mai face şi am început să o urmăresc constant, recenzia ei video m-a făcut să citesc The Fault in Our Stars când la noi nu se făcea încă vâlvă în jurul ei. Apoi, am descoperit treptat şi alţii care făceau clipuri despre cărţi şi am început să îmi doresc tot mai mult să vreau şi eu să fac asta.

Îmi place foarte mult sistemul tău de rating pentru cărțile citite – de la o floare de vanilie la cinci. A existat vreo carte care nu a meritat nici măcar o floare?

Adela: Da, din păcate se publică multe cărţi proaste şi inevitabil, am dat şi peste aşa ceva. E nevoie şi de ele câteodată, măcar să îţi aminteşti cum să le apreciezi pe cele excepţionale. Am un raft pe Goodreads cu cărţi pe care le-am considerat o pierdere de vreme, dacă sunteţi curioşi.

Între o carte clasică și una dintr-un gen cu mai multă priză la public (fantasy, aventură, mister, Young Adult) ce ai alege să recenzezi?

Adela: De regulă, nu scriu recenzii la clasici. Despre ei s-a vorbit atât de mult, încât e cam greu să spui ceva cu adevărat nou. Mă rezum doar să îmi expun părerea în câteva vorbe in clipurile în care vorbesc despre lecturile lunare. Cărţile cu priză la public le recenzez dacă am multe de spus despre ele sau dacă le-am primit de la autori/edituri/librării/companii de promovare. Dacă nu, ajung şi ele tot în clipurile lunare. Citesc cel puţin 5 cărţi pe lună şi nu îmi ajunge timpul să filmez câte un clip pentru fiecare.

Care este autorul tău preferat?

Adela: Agatha Christie. O iubesc atât de mult pe scriitoarea asta, încât am ales-o ca subiect pentru atestatul la limba engleză. A avut o viaţă extraordinară şi mă fascinează tare mult. Am în plan un clip în care vorbesc despre ea.

Am înțeles din Q&A-urile de pe canalul tău  că ești studentă la Farmacie. Cum reușești să împaci facultatea cu pasiunea ta pentru lectură? 

Adela: Nu e nevoie să le împac, din fericire nu se ceartă una cu alta. Îmi iubesc facultatea, iubesc lectura şi faptul că iau o pauză din învăţat ca să citesc îmi dă apoi spor să învăţ. M-am obişnuit să îmi inchei ziua măcar cu câteva pagini dintr-o carte, oricât de ocupată aş fi.

Ai vreun motto după care te ghidezi în viață?

Adela: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” ― Oscar Wilde

Și ultima întrebare. De ce ar trebui să te urmărească iubitorii de lectură pe Youtube sau să îți citească recenziile de pe blog?

Adela: Sunt întotdeauna sinceră în părerile pe care le exprim, atât pe YouTube, cât şi pe vlog şi mă bucur că am reuşit să stabilesc o legătură destul de strânsă cu oamenii care mă urmăresc şi au încredere în recomandările mele. Pe lângă cărţile în jurul cărora se face vâlvă, citesc şi cărţi mai puţin cunoscute şi care de foarte multe ori sunt mai bine scrise sau cu subiecte mai neobişnuite. Pentru că abordez aproape toate genurile de literatură (mai puţin non-ficţiune), este câte ceva pe placul fiecăruia.

 Sursă imagini: Adela, Vanilla Moon Books