Thursday, June 21, 2018

Midsummer's Bottom by Darren Dash






  Whimsical, touching, witty, and unlike anything I have ever read by Darren Dash, Midsummer's Bottom is a delightful read, and one I will surely remember for a long time.
  Before Master Shakespeare had published his magical tale of fairies, love, and mischief, he sought help from some beings who were well-versed on the subject... actual fairies. In exchange for their help, the Bard himself thanked them in a way that would soon make them regret ever lending a helping hand in his work.
  They would have to endure every incarnation of the play. The good and the bad...and the very bad.
  As the 20th anniversary of a local community's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream approaches, the fairies seek help in a human who thrives on chaos, in hope of destroying any future production of the local play.
  Accepting the challenge, Del Chapman pulls out all the stops, and becomes the play's and the players' very worst nightmare.
  I didn't need to know what the book was about before I accepted Darren Dash's book review request. I trust him and his work, and I would read his edition of the dictionary, then reread it again. That being said, once I started Midsummer's Bottom, I was baffled! This did not sound like the author I'd come to love all those years ago. This was a new formula for him--a formula that worked. 
  Although, during the first few chapters, I was preparing myself for the worst. What if I didn't like it as much as his darker work? I would, of course, still be honest in my review, but it would have slowly killed me to admit that I didn't love everything Darren had written.
  Thankfully, that wasn't the case. I found myself constantly thinking about this book. Mourning reading time I lost cooking, or sleeping, or spending family time. (Sorry, family.)
  Darren Dash has once again, stunned me with his talent of storytelling. I did not want this book to end.
  I found myself laughing out loud, audibly gasping, and furrowing my brow when tensions got thick. (Which, when a book is about a main character who causes chaos, happens A LOT.)
  It warmed my heart, it had me clicking for more--even when the book was over, and it confirmed one thought in my mind, that was a distant whisper until now--
  ---Darren Dash can do anything.


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.



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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.




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