Monday, July 10, 2017

The Truth About Thea by Amy Impellizzeri

  Amy Impellizzeri continues to stun her readers in her latest novel, The Truth About Thea.
  Thea has been diagnosed as an addict. Her drug of choice? Social media. After a fatal scandal is linked directly to her business Alibis, Thea has been sentenced to a rehab facility, where she will learn that creating fake personas and profiles for strangers isn't as safe as it sounds.
  Will is a recovering addict himself, now turned counselor at Thea's rehab facility. Will has deep, dark secrets of his own, and he uses his own experience to help those in need of a new beginning. But with Thea's manipulative nature, Will may have bitten off more than he can chew.
  This book floored me. Amy Impellizzeri weaves her words into magnificent tapestries of stories. She ties loose ends together to create a masterpiece. She is a genius.
  I savored every word of The Truth About Thea, fully knowing that they were intricate pieces of a puzzle I had yet to reveal. Amy Impellizzeri's work is powerful. You know that when you start a novel of hers, you are in for a good ride. You will go in, oblivious to the story. Something will hook you, and you begin to crave the next chapter.
  Then, as soon as you reach that peak, that pinnacle of the roller coaster, the air is knocked out of your lungs. Breathless, you can only think, "I need to start this book over again."
  I have never read any author who can capture that magic like Amy Impellizerri. Each book I read by her, packs a powerful punch. I will say it again:
  No author can tell a story like Amy Impellizzeri. 
  As soon as I finished her book, I wanted to reread it, and only it, so I can truly savor her story again. If you want to get lost in a story, get lost in The Truth About Thea.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Rise of a Cherub by Tezi Beach

  Tia was just a normal girl. She went to school, hung out with her friends, and lived a normal teenage life, like all typical teenagers do. Little did she know that there was a whole invisible world waiting for her to accept her fate.
  Tia is a Cherub, a spiritual being that, when risen to full power, can either choose to fight for light, or for darkness. This is what surrounds Tia as she walks this earth. Angels, fighting to keep her soul pure and stay within the light, and demons fighting to sway her to reject her chosen path, and fight for evil.
  The coin has been tossed, and whatever side it lands on is up to Tia, and Tia alone.
  This book. Oh boy, was I conflicted with this book.
  I admit that I went into The Rise of a Cherub not truly knowing the entire premise. I read a brief blurb, but accepted the request not fully understanding what genre it was, and what the story entailed. That being said, in all honesty, if I knew that the book was Christian Fiction and had such a religious influence, I don't know if I would have picked it up.
  But...I accepted the request, received the book, put it on my TBR list, and, when it was time to read it, picked up the book and began Tia's story.
  I'll say this now: If it weren't for that first chapter, I would not have been as hooked as I was.
  That introduction hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt as if no matter how much I could have prepared for Tezi Beach's book, it would not have been enough. I should have known then that I was in for a ride of a lifetime.
  I read on, and was fully prepared to put the book down as soon as I got uncomfortable with the "message."
  The only problem was...I didn't want to put it down.
  Every time I would start to question myself, something exciting would happen. A new plot, a new character, a twist--it was always something amazing in this book that kept me going. I would find any brief moment in the day to read, even if it was just one more page.
  While we're on the subject, Tezi Beach may write Christian Fiction, but she has some serious potential to become a master of horror. Her scary scenes were genuinely TERRIFYING. Sickening, shudder-worthy, disgusting, amazingness. (I know that's not a word, but when I get excited about books, you can't expect me to make perfect sense, okay?)
  So, I read on. And on. And on and on and on.
  It was so worth it. Even now, when I look back at it, I think, "Wow."
  Believe me, the book had its faults, I won't sugar-coat that. I would definitely do some extra editing, just to polish it up a bit, but for a new(ish) author, it's definitely not bad.
  All in all, I loved this book. If I had judged a book by its cover (or its genre), and kept myself from reading it because I was afraid of the plot, I would have seriously missed out on an amazing read.
  Now all I need is the second book!

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Alive by Stephanie Erickson

  They saw it all happen. The fear, the panic, the carnage. They saw it all...from up there.

  Alive is the third and final book in Stephanie Erickson's Dead Room trilogy, and I almost have to say that it is my favorite. It certainly has my favorite main Dead Room character, the no-nonsense, strong, independent Vega Fowell.
  When I read The Dead Room (book one), I knew Stephanie Erickson was going somewhere great with her story. Did I know it was going to be "stay up late and be overtired the next morning" great? No. But it was. In fact, it may even bump Unseen down to second place for me.
  I was warned by Stephanie herself that Alive is not a fan favorite. I went into it cautiously, fully prepared for something to sour it, but all I found was satisfaction. As a reader and reviewer, I was very happy with how Ms Erickson ended her trilogy.
  I haven't met an Erickson book I haven't liked. Each one is exciting, scary, and addicting. Although, I have to say...this trilogy takes the cake. It had me gripping its pages at 4:00 in the morning, fully aware that I was not going to get any sleep that night. How she packs so much action into so little pages, I will never know. When I read book two, The Dead World, I was pretty confident that it was going to be my favorite, even after reading Alive. But now, after some serious thought, Alive nudges it down a notch.
  Stephanie Erickson's books only get better.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Dead World by Stephanie Erickson

  The Dead World, Stephanie Erickson's second book in The Dead Room trilogy, will haunt you to your very core.
  Without giving too much away, we began the series with book one, The Dead Room, and learned that what used to be civilization is now something out of our worst nightmares. Told during two different points in time, The Dead World teaches us what led to this turn of events, and what our main characters can possibly do to reverse it.
  If I thought The Dead Room was "good," The Dead World was even better. I finished the entire book in one sitting (4 1/2 hours to be exact). I could not stop reading. It may have been because I've been in a serious reading lull lately (because, of course, work gets in the way of precious binge-reading time), but I am willing to bet than anyone who picks up The Dead World will be sucked in to Ms Erickson's story immediately.
  I was so hooked, I even considered starting book three, Alive, at 4:30am. Who needs sleep when a story is this good?
  I am absolutely addicted to the Dead World. I have to know what's going to happen, so pardon me if I cut this review short to make room for more reading time later.
  Ms Erickson's books can only be compared to remarkable episodes of The Twilight Zone. When she sets up a story that is sure to captivate you until the very end, it would be an injustice to put it down.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bury Me by Dianna Dann

  Lenore Hawn is a hoarder. Surrounded by piles and piles of knick knacks, boxes, and garbage, Lenore is slowly building a tomb for herself. Hannah, a seventeen year-old neighbor of Lenore's, has agreed to help uncover piles of junk, in hopes of finding a box long lost in one of the over-stuffed bedrooms. Hannah is clueless as to what it is, and the last thing she wants to do is to be punished by having to sort through her older neighbor's extremely stuffed and dusty house. But she agrees.
  In the process of searching for this lost piece of Lenore's history, Hannah and Lenore begin to grow close...and begin to share stories. In Dianna Dann's Bury Me, Hannah and Lenore not only uncover years and years of accumulated junk, but also uncover each other's deep, dark secrets.
  Bury Me was a satisfying read. Dianna Dann still has a way to go before she contends with the big dogs, but her stories are always quite satisfying to read. Bury Me was meaningful, and deep (a common theme with Dianna Dann novels). As the story goes on, and Lenore and Hannah peel back the layers of each other's past, you find yourself becoming more and more emotionally invested in their histories.
  Bury Me packs a powerful punch. The intrigue of Lenore's story will keep you hooked and anxious for more, and the ending does not disappoint. Dianna Dann has successfully written another book that leaves a large impact on its readers.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga: From Blankets to Demo to Blacksad by Byron Preiss, Howard Zimmerman, and Neil Gaiman

  It seems as if I have become quite lucky with BookCrossing finds within the past few months, because lo and behold! I have found another. The book Gods were smiling down upon me on that snowy and slushy winter's day, when I ventured to the same park where I found my previous BookCrossing book, and stumbled across The Year's Best Graphic Novels, Comics & Manga: From Blankets to Demo to Blacksad.
  "Really?" I thought. "Another book about graphic novels and manga? Someone must really want me to expand my literary palate even more..." (Even though I clearly already admitted that I now like manga.)
  Even though I had already picked up a BookCrossing book from that spot, and from that BookCrossing member before, I figured the book would be better off being read and re-released into the wild, rather than it sitting in the cold, wet snow for another few days. I brought it home.
  When I picked up my first BookCrossing book, which happened to be manga, I was excited to go on an adventure into a genre of literature I had never experienced before. When I picked up my second BookCrossing book, I was less excited. I always imagined that I would read every BookCrossing book I found, because I felt that in some cosmic twist of fate, I was meant to pick it up and read whatever was left for me, but...a book summarizing comics and manga? Do people actually read these books, or are they just books left over from garage sales that eventually find themselves on secondhand shelves? Is this a coffee table book? I didn't think this book was actually readable.
  But every time I thought about moving on, re-releasing the book, and diving back into my Harry Potter reread (which, I'm ashamed to say, I have not finished yet), I felt guilty. How could I pick up this book and take it home just to have it sitting on my couch for two weeks before returning it to the wild?
  I had to read it. So I did. (It didn't hurt that one of the forewords was written by Neil Gaiman.)
  The forewords sold me, and it wasn't just because one was written by Neil Gaiman. In the forewords, these writers and comic-enthusiasts alike wrote about what comics and graphic novels meant to them when they were younger. How they aspired to write comics one day, to meet Stan Lee, and to collect and collect comics until their little geeky hearts were full to the brim with joy. These are feelings I have had for many things in my life, and I recognized their passion, like a zebra recognizing a similar black and white-striped pattern.
  I understood their passion, and I thought to myself, "I must find out what makes these dorks so passionate about word bubbles, cartoons, and flying super men in tights and capes."
  Since the "Year's Best" book was a decent variation of samples of different comics, graphic novels, and manga flavors to taste, it's easy for me to say that there were some stories I loved, some I found amusing, and some I would be satisfied to never see ever again in my life. For instance, Hsu and Chan? HIT. Any of the manga? Miss. Owly? Hit! Serenity Rose? Miss, miss, miss. Miss, to the point of me reading two pages, and skipping the rest. (And I never skip in books.) I also loved Family Reunion and Robot in the Rain. Yossel and Demo were incredibly dark (and creepy--especially Demo), but the artwork was exceptionally done. Some of these comics and graphic novels (I leave out the manga but none of them particularly tickled my fancy) were lacking in story, but were beautiful to gaze upon, and some were simple drawings with a story deep enough to bring you to tears. I found Secret Identity fun and easy to read, along with Blankets, Queen and Country, Ex Machina, and Sandman (bravo, Neil Gaiman).
  After I finished the book, I read the reviews of it on Goodreads, and was disappointed to see that many readers gave it low ratings due to the size of the samples per comic, graphic novel, and manga. (Each sample was a page to 5 or 6 pages long.) I definitely disagree. I feel that the sizes of the samples were more than satisfactory, because they gave the reader a chance to move on to something different without becoming bored.
  I won't credit myself more than I deserve, and say that I am an expert in this genre of books. I don't think I would even be able to tell the difference between a graphic novel and a comic, given the chance. But I will say this: My mind has been opened even more to this field, I now have some obvious favorites (and obvious un-favorites), and I look forward to reading more from these writers and artists.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Wizard's Forge by A.M. Justice

  Victoria of Ourtown is the heroine the world needs right now. Snatched from her peaceful life of becoming the youngest Logkeeper Ourtown has ever seen, Vic must survive the torment of being sold into slavery, learn to rebuild a life after losing her identity, grow the courage it takes to lead an army of men five times her size into battle, and fight against the half of her that feels pulled to return to her vindictive master... In A Wizard's Forge, Vic will face trials of life, magic, and death, and it's up to her, and her alone, to survive.
  When A.M. Justice told me that she had re-written her novel Blade of Amber (one of my favorite review requests), and asked if I could read it and give her my two cents, I was thrilled to hear that I would be revisiting one of my most favorite stories. Apprehensive, in fear that my favorite characters would be put in danger they didn't face in the original story, but thrilled nonetheless. Blade of Amber was such a wonderful book, I was beyond curious to see what A.M. Justice had done to A Wizard's Forge (the re-write) to make it different.
  As a reviewer, I read every review request like a review request, unless an author's writing is impressive enough to mask the real world around me, and fully submerge me into fiction. As I read A Wizard's Forge, I disappeared into its pages. I felt reconnected with the familiarity of a beloved story, but at the same time, I felt as if I was reading it for the first time. When I read Blade of Amber, I would keep track of minor imperfections in my head (which I can't help, because I have been asked to edit many books since I became a reviewer), and I would ask myself, "This book is amazing, but does it compare to books one would find in a bookstore?" Blade of Amber was one of the best review requests I had ever read, but in all honesty, it still had enough imperfections to be categorized only as a review request from an indie author. I say this with brutal honesty, because I have to make it known, the volume of improvement A.M. Justice has made with her book.
  In A Wizard's Forge, I found no imperfections. If I hadn't known that A.M. Justice was an indie author before I read this, I would have never guessed that she is not a Barnes and Noble bestseller. With her updates and new corrections that turn Blade of Amber into A Wizard's Forge, she has evolved from indie author into an up-and-coming author. I do not say this lightly, because if you ask me honestly, I will tell you that most of my review requests come from authors who all need some tips, tricks, and editing before they contend with the big dogs. I would have said the same for A.M. Justice if I was going solely based on her first draft of Vic's story.
  I write this long, drawn-out review in hope of making it clear to all, that A.M. Justice has improved her story on an impressive level. She is ready to be published professionally. She is ready to have her books on bestseller shelves around the world. I highly encourage her to pursue getting A Wizard's Forge published, because this book should not be overlooked.
  I gush a lot about books I love, I know I do, and I'm sure my reviews can come off like I'm crying wolf, but please believe me when I tell you that this is a good one. A really good one. I will happily back up Ms Justice if she decides to take her editing and publishing further, because I believe in this book. I believe in its success. I look forward to the day when I get to boast about my autographed rough draft of A Wizard's Forge, while the rest of the world is racing to the bookstore to find a copy of their own.

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