Archive for Reviews

Friday Review: Hit by Delilah S. Dawson

I have loved everything Delilah S. Dawson has written. I loved Servants of the Storm and was even more excited about Hit because the story has such an interesting concept.

HIT by Delilah S. Dawson

HIT by Delilah S. Dawson

HIT starts on day one of a dystopia which is the most interesting thing to me. Most of the people don’t realize the world has changed and that everything is different now. Patsy is one of the people who knows things have changed and will never be the same again.

Valor National Bank has saved the US from their own debt and is calling in everything owed. The choices are simple: pay your debt, become an assassin, or die. To save her mother Patsy becomes an assassin hunting collecting debt and delivering ultimatums to 10 people to save her mother’s life.

With the current atmosphere and fear of debt, Hit pushed a lot of buttons the entire time I was reading it. Watching the various reasons Patsy’s targets were in debt (student loans, YIKES) and the choices she’s forced to make as she learns that these ten targets aren’t just strangers assigned at random.

Her sidekick, a rich boy named Wyatt, watches Patsy’s back even when they both know the last name on Patsy’s list is Wyatt’s brother. As time runs out, Patsy’s faced with an impossible choice, and a bank out for blood money.

Hit was a violent, rough ride. The story doesn’t pull away from the violence of what’s happening and at times was rough to read. The chapters are longer than average and each chapter is named for one of the ten targets on Patsy’s list. I’d suggest only older YA readers enjoy this title since the violence could be very upsetting for younger folks.

The ending opens the way perfectly for the sequel, Strike, which is out in March 2016.

Friday Review: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley is the heartbreaking, gorgeous tale of Drew and his creation Patient F.

Drew believes he was suppose to die in the crash that killed the rest of his family. Now he lives in the hospital, sleeps in a forgotten closet, works in the cafeteria, and hangs out with the nurses all while avoiding death who roams the hospital searching for him. The only thing that gives him much comfort is working on his comic about Patient F. But when Rusty screams into the ER covered in burns, Drew is drawn out of hiding and finds new hope about a future outside of the hospital. But first he has to deal with death, and the truth about himself (and Patient F).

This book had me openly crying on the train several times while reading through it. It’s a poignant story about a boy so afraid of who he is and of losing that image he’s created that he denies himself the chance for a life outside of the hospital. Drew is such a sweet, conflicted character that I wanted to reach through the book and hug him. All the secondary characters are fleshed out, real people that make the hospital feel like a real place.

The intermixing of the story of Drew and the graphic novel of Patient F tie together beautifully, and made the story even more interesting. I read this on the Kindle and was thrilled that the graphic sections were just as easy to read as the text. it never pulled me out of the story and they connected in a subtle but clear way.

This is my favorite book of 2015 so far, and it’s one of the best books I’ve read in the past few years. A beautiful tale about tragedy, and finding your way through to the other side of grief.

You can find The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley here.

Friday Review: Mabon and Pomegranate

Mabon and Pomegranate by Kimberly Richardson

Mabon and Pomegranate by Kimberly Richardson

Mabon and Pomegranate by Kimberly Richardson is a collection of two stories, both involving women who discover worlds outside of everything they’ve ever known.

Mabon tells the story of Monica who makes the decision to leave a life that’s dragging her down and moves to the town of Mabon where she immediately finds the home of her dreams. The city, the people and the life in Mbon is what Monica has been searching for her whole life. She meets glamorous strangers and falls in love, but rumblings of an Other World war threaten to destroy her new life. She must work together with the mysterious Auberon to save her love, or maybe find a new love. Mabon ends with her decision still hanging in the balance and I’m looking forward to the sequel to see what happens next!

Pomegranate is the story of Alexandra. She has a wonderful husband, an incredible life, and her dream of running her own bookstore. But a black clad stranger enters her world and makes her start to question the life she’s built. When the unthinkable happens, Alexandra must decide whether to dive into the world of pomegranates or to stay with what she’s always known.

These stories are both tales of woman being swept away into a dark, beautiful world filled with passion and danger they’ve never before known.

You can buy Mabon and Pomegranate here.

Friday Review: The Book of Life

This week I’m going to review a movie rather than a book so, let’s hear it all about….BOOK OF LIFE!

Book of Life poster

BOOK OF LIFE

Full disclosure, I have been excited about this movie since I first saw a trailer for it. I love Guillermo del Toro’s work.

So I was able to go to a screening Thursday night and let me tell you, you are in for a treat if you go see this movie. It’s a great story that really paints the culture of the day of the dead in a beautiful light.

The story is, at its heart, a classic tale of one girl with two boys, best friends, who both love her. Only this time, the stakes are much higher as two immortal creatures make a wager over which boy she will ultimately wed. Maria is spirited and spunky, and causes far too much trouble at a young age so she is sent off to a private school much to the sadness of her two best friends, and future suitors, Manolo and Joaquin.

Now the whole woman as the prize issue is the main problem I had with the movie, and while Maria comments on it a few times, she never really challenges much, and for most intents serves as a background character. She’s a decent female character but she doesn’t stand out as an example of a great female character.

Manolo, on the other hand, I really loved. He is compassionate, and sticks to that compassion even in moments when it would be far easier to fall into violence and abandon his morals, but he actually sticks to them and finds a way to make them work.

One of my favorite parts is that almost no one is all bad in the movie, even the character who is at first painted as the ultimate villain comes around and is forgiven and allowed to be redeemed. And the rivalry for the hand of Maria doesn’t destroy the friendship between the two boys which is so great to see.

The music is a lot of fun (though The Apology Song was without a doubt my favorite and if you’re an animal person you’ll probably love it too) and plays an important part to the movie because Manolo so loves his music.

The message in the movie is hammered home pretty clearly towards the end: that you can write your own story no matter what is expected of you.

While there are some parts that might be a little scary for very young children (nothing any worse than your average Disney flick), I think it will be a great movie to see with (or without) kids. I went with my roommates and we all had a blast. It’s funny, sweet, and an entertaining story that will keep you wondering what’s going to happen next.

Weekly Review: Servants of the Storm

Sorry about missing last week, but this week I am back to review Delilah S. Dawson’s new YA novel, Servants of the Storm. 

Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson cover

Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson

Dovey lost her best friend Carly when Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah and left disaster in her wake. A year later, and Dovey sees Carly in one of their favorite coffee shops. Needing to know the truth, Dovey stops taking the strange white pills that leave her in a fog, and begins to see what’s really happening in Savannah. Demons are running rampant. To save Carly, Dovey will have to find her way through the hellish scape of her home to free her friend. 

Enlisting the help of Baker, her childhood friend, and Issac, a mysterious young man who knows more than he lets on, pulls Dovey into new nooks and crannies where she starts to learn just what the cost of saving Carly really is. 

I adored this book. It’s dark, and creepy with southern gothic all over. Dovey’s love for Carly reminds me so much of me and my friends at that age where we would do anything for one another and nothing would stop that bond. In Dovey and Carly’s case, not even death can sever their friendship. 

The world of Savannah is rich and vibrant without it feeling like you have to really know Savannah to understand the story. The flavor of the city is there, the old, haunting area that the tourists don’t generally get to see. It’s a great testament to the southern gothic feel for a story. 

Dovey is brave, and relentless, and she pushes the story forward past the point that she should have given up. I really found myself rooting for her, and worried about her well being. With people questioning if she’s just crazy or if she really is seeing things, Dovey has to convince herself, and her friends that Carly is out there and she needs help. 

I really recommend Servants of the Storm to anyone who likes their stories dark and twisted. A great read with a really unique concept that looks at what happens when storms are more than just a simple force of nature. 

 

You can buy Servants of the Storm on AmazonBarnes and Noble or order it through your local Indie bookstore. 

 

Weekly review: Mirrors and Magic: A Steampunk Fairy Tale

This week I had the pleasure of reading a lovely YA steampunk fairy tale set in a circus. And that is pretty much all of my favorite things rolled together! So here we go!

Mirrors and Magic Cover

Mirrors and Magic: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Katina French

Neve is trying to hold together the circus her father always loved, but wicked things are afoot all around her. When Neve finally makes the leap to save the circus from financial ruin she steps right into a battle for the spotlight. After someone makes an attempt on her life, she starts to question who to trust as she tries to save the circus, her father’s legacy, and just maybe whatever feelings are growing between her and knife thrower Brendan.

As soon as I saw Steampunk circus, I was sold. Two of my favorite things! This take of the Snow White fairytale Neve is a delightful, hard working character who clearly loves and is devoted 100% to the circus even as it starts to fall to financial ruin around her. Brendan is wickedly charming, but certainly not a polished Prince Charming, and the characters in the circus around her are all fun, and interesting people. The fairy tale elements don’t seem forced at all, and I actually forgot about the Snow White aspect as I got drawn into the story.
The world building is truly fascinating and I certainly hope there are more stories set in this world because all of the mechanics and the wars sound fascinating! I also think this book would be great for someone who isn’t sure about steampunk because at no point are you really beaten over the head with it, more of the world around the story is a steampunk world.
Over all, this is a fun, quick read of magic, courage, and not giving up on the things (and people) you love.

 

You can buy Mirrors and Magic here.

Weekly Book Review: Bad Mojo by Shane Berryhill

So I’m starting to post a book review every Friday, so woohoo!

I really want to read more so this will hopefully keep me on target with getting lots of things read. We’re starting off with Bad Mojo, a book by a convention buddy of mine, Shane Berryhill. So without further ado, here’s your spoiler-free review!

Bad Mojo book cover

Bad Mojo (Zora Banks Book 1) by Shane Berryhill

Chattanooga is its own character in this dark urban fantasy series featuring Ash Owens, a rough and tumble redneck with a monstrous side, and his partner Zora Banks, a Southern conjuring woman of incredible power. Spooks (supernatural creatures) roam about ‘Nooga, and Ash makes his living trying to keep some of them (and himself) in line. When Ash is hired on to find a politician’s missing wife, he stumbles into more problems then he expected especially after he finds out it’s not just spooks that act like monsters.

Ash has got one helluva personality and it’s clear from page one of Bad Mojo. He’s a smart-talking country boy struggling to come to turns with his own monsters and trying to make a living in the city he loves. Chattanooga really is a huge character in this novel and holds her own as Ash travels from top to bottom trying to unravel the mystery he finds himself in. There’s a lot of time spent developing the city of Chattanooga, the various underground circles run by the Vipers, and the Zombies, and even some more conjuring folk, and the mysterious In-Between.

Ash is a big act first think later kind of guy and it puts big strife between he and his partner Zora especially as the book progresses. The way the two partners want to handle this case causes a lot of chaos between them, and it’s fun to watch Ash try to dance around his problems only to cause bigger ones.

Occasionally some of the sections of dialogue run a little long because I want back to the action, but overall this is a really fun, quick ride along a supernatural world. The lingo used to describe the creatures, Spooks and Vipers, makes the take of vampires and zombies seem fresher and unique to Berryhill’s world.

A fun read for anyone who has a taste for a smartass Southern story, and wants to see a fresh take on urban fantasy.

You can buy Bad Mojo here.

HeroesCon 2014

So I am safely back from HeroesCon in Charlotte, NC and let me start off by saying that I had an incredible time. I was fortunate enough to get to go with a friend who has family nearby and we stayed at their place and could take the Charlotte train to the convention every day.

Arriving and finding the place was easy-peasy. We picked up our badges and were on our way. It was a lot bigger than I thought, and the main hall was a little overwhelming with all of the things there.

Day one arrival!

Day one arrival!

Overhead view of the main hall.

Overhead view of the main hall.

Some of the most amazing artists were there, just incredible artwork everywhere. There were also tons of comics, and just pure excitement everywhere you looked.

I also got to meet up with friends John Hartness and Shane Berryhill (and you should totally go check them out because they rock). There were some incredible panels by the writers of Marvel and of Image.

However, the highlight for me had to be meeting Kelly Sue Deconnick. I’ve admired her comics for a while, and she’s constantly inspiring me to do more and work harder. She’s got a great text system set up (check out #bgsd to learn more) and it really gives me a huge boost every time a message pops up from it.

I told her that she is one of the people who keeps me motivated to write. I gave her a copy of The Bone Queen and in exchange she gave me a wonderful hug.

Me and Kelly Sue Deconnick

Me and Kelly Sue Deconnick

After meeting Kelly Sue I headed into the line to get her husband, Matt Fraction, to sign my copy of Sex Criminals. He was way nicer and more awesome than I expected, asking me about what my degree was in and loving the fact that I told him I realized I didn’t need any kind of MFA to actually write anything.

I then got to go to my first Carol Corps panel which was awesome. The Carol Corps are a group inspired by Captain Marvel and they are by far one of the kindest, most open and welcoming groups I’ve ever met.

When the day was all over, my friend and I hoped onto the train and headed home. On the ride back, we ran into a family. The young mother was thrilled by my Marvel themed skirt and bag and gushed about superheroes. We told her all about the convention and she started asking her husband about going. He asked us how much it cost, and that’s when I made a pretty easy decision. I passed my pass over to her and told her to go enjoy it tomorrow for free, and my friend gave her pass to her husband so they could both go enjoy it without worrying about the cost.

I sincerely hope they made it over on Sunday and had an awesome time with their kids.

All and all Heroescon has become one of my favorite conventions. It’s big without being overwhelming, and incredibly well organized.

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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The novel follows a tale of what other creatures think will make us happy, and the terrible consequences that it brings. A young boy finds himself tied into a timeless world of wonder, monsters, and delicious jam. He and his friend must find a way to send the creature home before it’s too late.

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Line is like a spider web. It dares you to touch it, and be tangled into the delicate, binding world that Gaiman crafts. There are times it fades away into something just out of reach, and then, a beam of light catches it just right and the entire thing lights up with an otherworldy glow that is both terrifying and alluring.

There are other moments that the story takes you off guard, the reader walking into it unexpectedly, fighting, kicking to get the sticky tendrils off, but the story stays, clinging to skin, bone and soul long after it’s been read. You can feel the webs curling around your  skin, tieing around your bones, and  lingering long after the moment has passed.

There’s something delicate and wistful about the story; something not fully formed like half-remembered thoughts and moments tied together with the delicacy  and strength of a spiderweb. It’s terrifying, endearing, and a breathtaking at an unbelievably fantastical childhood.

 

Unchained

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of going to an amazing reading in Savannah, Ga. It was the final night of the Unchained Tour, and it was amazing.

I went in for the show having no idea what was going to happen, or really what I was in for. I knew it was a reading. I knew it was going to have a lot of amazing writers there, and I knew that I was thrilled to be going.

It turned out to be nothing like I imagined. I walked into the venue and found beautiful paper hearts floating from the roofs, lining the stage. The room was filled to capacity, sold totally out and every chair was filled, with a few people standing or sitting on the floor.

The evening began and I understood that we were here to hear stories, to have stories told to us by some of the most amazing storytellers of our time. This wasn’t a standard reading where someone opens up their book and reads the words on the page: this was a moment of storytelling at its barest form. These were all stories about love, about life, about moments and things from these amazing people’s lives.

My friend, Neil, got to tell a one-minute story.

My friend, Neil, got to tell a one-minute story.

 

I cannot recommend this highly enough. If you have the chance to go see one of their shows, absolutely please do.  I am hoping to get more involved with the Unchained project in the very near future.

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