Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Bell Between Worlds by Ian Johnstone

36256552This was recommended by the woman who ran the children's department at the independent bookstore I worked at three years ago.  It got buried in the move, and I'm just now getting around to reading it.  

This book was compared to the "Chronicles of Narnia" and "His Dark Materials" series.  Those are some big footprints to follow behind.  I think the comparison is a bit too lofty for the outcome.  

Sylas Tate woke up as a normal boy running errands for an oppressive uncle when he comes across the Shop of Things and his whole world is upended.  He must find his mother.  He enters upon the journey of his life.

The novel is a trope and was a little hard to push passed my expectations.  Most of the time I felt like I was reading any number of other middle grade novels where the protagonist flees the evil overlord to come out the other side as a hero.  

The story felt forced, but the concept of the Glimmer Myth kept me from putting this away unfinished.  This is a yin and yang story.  There are two worlds that are reflections of each other.  Each person has a glimmer in the opposite world.

Good concepts that are really fun building blocks.  I commend the hard work that went into this novel's creation.  There is nothing glaringly wrong about the book, and I wouldn't label it as bad.  However, I cannot say that it was good.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Smoke & Summons by Charlie Holmberg

I had stacked up a rather large Netgalley pile again, so despite having pre-ordered this novel, I felt it was only right to plow through my ARCs first.  The only problem was some of them were harder reading than I anticipated, and I was put off from reading this for quite awhile.  I missed the release day I had so hoped to help promote.  Que sera, sera.

I pre-ordered this because 1) it was written by Charlie Holmberg and 2) it is about humans being vessels to spirits.  (I feel this could be turned into a really awesome anime.)  Sandis lives in an incredibly sheltered life as the favorite vessel to a criminally insane master.  Rone is a 25 year old parkour ninja.  How could I not pre-order?

Sandis's character development as an 18 year old runaway is fantastic.  You can feel her naivety from having been sheltered most of her adolescence, but her street smarts from her childhood lie under the surface.  As she flexes her atrophied skills, the story takes a little bit of a slow start.  Plus, everything is being told from two different perspectives until Sandis and Rone meet up in an epic bar fight.

The slow start was a little surprising, but I just knew if I made it to the meat of the story I'd never put it down.  Once Sandis and Rone meet, the novel just absolutely takes off.  The final 3/4 of the novel are absolutely cram packed with action and drama.

The fight scenes are incredibly vivid, and it wasn't hard to have an imaginary battle going on while I read.  There is excellent character development and plenty of scenes for story growth in between all the action.  My heart was wrenching through multiple parts of the story as I became incredibly invested in reading.

And can we just mention that ending?  I mean, honestly, I knew it was coming and yet I still felt slapped in the face.  I think I had honestly stopped breathing in those last paragraphs.  Best ending I have read in years.

There is a strong dynamic of faith and religion that Holmberg brings to the table that makes her novels some of my all time favorites.  I have also found that because of these moral ponderings I am able to reread all her novels despite knowing the final outcome.  That is a top notch novel in my opinion--one you can read and keep getting something out of even when you know the ending.

I have yet to read a book by Charlie Holmberg that I have not enjoyed.  And I still have not been disappointed.  I am super excited that I received an ARC for Myths & Mortals, book two, which is publishing this April!  The even more exciting news is the final book in the trilogy will be releasing by the end of the year.  That is an entire Charlie Holmberg trilogy in one year.  I am beyond pumped.  I have some serious reading to go do now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Immoral Code by Lillian Clark

40610706Today is the release day for Immoral Code by Lillian Clark.  I have a love-hate relationship with this novel.  

I received an e-mail for the advanced copy at the beginning of the year.  I was instantly drawn in by their tagline: "Ocean's 8 meets The Breakfast Club in this fast-paced, multi-perspective story about five teens determined to hack into one billionaire absentee father's company to steal tuition money." 

Should have been suspicious at the 8 instead of 11, but I was completely focused on The Breakfast Club--easily one of my favorite movies.  I didn't read the synopsis much further than that when I clicked the request button.  It took awhile for the request to be approved, and I mostly forgot what the story was all about by the time the ARC hit my inbox.  

I really need to read synopses in much further detail before I request books.  It bites me in the butt when I don't.  Hence the love-hate relationship.  

This is a story told from five different perspectives.  The author does an okay job of achieving unique character voice in this style.  Most of the chapters really just feel like more of the same voice, the kids are not that unique from one another.  (But I honestly feel that this is true teenage mindset, so not a disaster point in my opinion.)

There was plenty of action and drama to keep the story line from getting stagnant.  I didn't have trouble with the grammatical writing.  I had trouble with the concepts and lessons presented.  I understand it is Immoral Code, and it is about hacking and theft, but I figured there would be a correlating message.

Points I loved:

  • Keagan's moral compass
  • Keagan's battle with being moral in a group of amoral idiots
  • Keagan and the conservation he has with his dad
  • Bellamy's logical viewpoint on life and the emotional complications that come from being logical 100 percent of the time

Points I hated:
  • Nari
  • Keagan's relationship with Nari
  • Reese
  • Santiago
  • The amount of diversity pandering
  • The resolution of the story
  • Stance on regret

I honestly never would have requested this title had I read through the synopsis better.  It is not in a genre that I read or have any wish to read.  At times, it was a struggle to get through the novel, but there were bright points that made me give it a chance.  Before I knew it, I was at the end of the book struggling with how I was going to come up with a review.

There are good things that can be garnered from the book, but on an overall scale, I think it has more negatives than positives on what an impressionable young person will walk away with.  Therefore, I won't recommend it.  I'll just put my opinion out there, and then you'll do whatever you feel best suits your needs.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Roads from the Ashes by Megan Edwards

Husband and I want to live in an efficient home.  A floor plan that is less than 1,000 square feet, which apparently went the way of the dodo in the late '90s.  Making our dreams a reality has alluded us, and it's built some frustration.

Then this ARC came through my Netgalley.  The Lord must have heard my quandary and provided some much needed guidance.  I didn't waste any time requesting a copy.  Now I'm itching even worse to get out of here, but at least I now have some ideas on how to make our dreams a reality. 

Megan Edwards's home caught on fire back when the internet was nothing but a fledgling idea.  With nothing to their name, she and her husband decided to buy an R.V. and hit the road.  They didn't want the stereotypical experience of campers hauling themselves from state park to state park.  They wanted to work while exploring the United States.

Megan recounts their adventures as they struck out on a road less traveled and made money doing it.  Megan and her husband pioneered a lifestyle that was little thought of in the '90s.  With that endeavor, they came across many challenges and plenty of frustrations.  Megan captures all the anxiety and pressure of living life off the beaten path, but she also has a way of capturing the humor that comes from failure.

The most surprising part was all the interactions during their travels.  They really met the cream of what the United States has to offer.  All those people are really why they managed to have their success, in my opinion.

There is a ton of nostalgia to this book--which sealed my love for it--but all of the concepts still hold value to a modern reader.  If you dream of a mobile life, or already have the fortune of living it, this is a book you should really read.