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Sign of the Green Dragon: Sleuthing doesn’t Always Mean Computer Research and Safety

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Sign of the Green Dragon

181 Pages
Children’s/Middle Grade
CreateSpace Edition Publishing
Publication Date: August 3rd, 2016
Available on Kindle Unlimited
or get a copy here!

Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A buried treasure.

After six months in a new school, Sam’s finally fitting in. He’s the one kid with enough talent to hit the winning home run and bring the baseball trophy back to Haggarty Elementary. But Sam’s guardian is shipping him off to boarding school before that can happen.

When teammates, Joey and Roger, hear his bad news, they plot to hide him until the big game. Their secret cave is a perfect place until an earthquake shatters a wall and reveals a wooden chest with a red-eyed dragon carved into its top. Inside, a bony hand clutches a map with a note, promising treasure.

With Joey and Roger, Sam sets off to track down the clues and hopefully discover treasure. When some puzzle pieces start to make sense, the boys become lost in a labyrinth of underground tunnels, trapped by dangerous thieves and sealed inside an airless tomb.

Sign of the Green Dragon gets a high five for fantasy, fun and some fearsome adventure. If you like intrepid would-be knights on impossible and dangerous quests, you’ll love this story. As one reader says, this book, “has more twists than a dragon’s tail.”

Order now to jump into the adventure.

3Penguins
Quick Reasons: decent action/adventure tale; entertaining; occasional moments of snark and sass; a ‘coming of age’ journey (of sorts); quasi-mystery; perfect for thrill seekers and dragon lovers; some missing words/grammatical inconsistencies; I wish we’d gotten to see more of the magic/dragons aspect

Huge thank you, first and foremost, to C. Lee McKenzie and Createspace Edition Publishing for sending me a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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While not necessarily my favorite read of the year, this book was at turns endearing and enchanting. The focus on the boys’ struggles with and attempts at figuring out the “mystery” of this book–what the note they discovered meant, who/what the dragon twins were, and where the treasure was hidden–got somewhat lost in the grand scheme of the ending, particularly when one of the adult characters went missing/was kidnapped and the search for him began. I also felt like, for a book about dragons, I don’t feel like this focused enough on those key aspects–while there ARE dragons, they make sort of an odd, late appearance and do no more than explain that while they’d been “watching over the boys” the whole time, they couldn’t interfere because rules. In the end, I was just a bit let down by the promise of–and then lack of–dragons (but this is because I love books with dragons/dragon lore.)

 

The story, however, was quite a bit of fun. There were tons of humorous, snarky moments–particularly from our main boy, Sam–and I found myself being drawn into this world of mystery and intrigue fairly quickly. The prose is, admittedly, a little blase and young–but given the age this read is targeted for, I didn’t mind this so much. The fact that the characters become wholly consumed by and obsessed with their quest, and therefore don’t really notice the other things happening around them, was also realistic and well-done. I remember being that age and getting the same amount of tunnel-vision, and could easily understand where the boys were coming from throughout the read.

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The plot is fast-paced and action packed, though not weighed down TOO heavily with subjects of import. Sam is, throughout, struggling to figure out his place in the world–recently moved into his uncle’s house, his plight to come to terms with a feeling of helplessness and homelessness was endearing and heart-wrenching. The amount of devotion C. Lee McKenzie put into making and molding dynamic, differing familial relationships was a highlight of this read.

 

Of course, given the rating, you probably already know that this was not necessarily the book for me personally. While I enjoyed the story and the focus on familial relationships, both blood and not, I was disappointed by the seeming lack of actual dragons. There were also quite a few missing words or grammatical inconsistencies that, while not necessarily dragging down my reading progress, did trip me up a time or two throughout. They weren’t big enough to merit much on my radar, but there were enough of them that I started to notice after the first couple chapters.

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Overall, this was a cute coming of age tale with a slight focus on the fantastical. I had a good deal of fun following the boys on their journey–and seeing where Sam’s personal struggles led him at the end. C. Lee McKenzie crafted a read that lovers of mystery, thrill-seeking adventures, and dragons will appreciate–no matter their age! This was a fun read; I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us from this author!

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Blog Tour (Review), Teasers and Giveaway: The Duchess Quest

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Dainy doesn’t know that she is the lost Duchess of Jordinia, believed to have been assassinated fifteen years ago. Nor does she know that her uncle has implemented an illegal contest to seek her, offering her marriage hand as the reward! Though at odds, three clashing rivals – including a noble giant, a forest dweller and a thieving rake – voyage together by woodland, prairie and sea to recover the lost royal, notwithstanding the assassins and spies at their tail. Soon, young Dainy is swept into a comically complex romantic quadrangle as each suitor competes to capture her heart. Charmingly romantic and bursting with political intrigue, startling twists and vivid characters, readers of romance and fantasy alike will adore this original yet timeless tale of swashbuckling adventure and unlikely love.

About the Book:

Jordinia #1
412 Pages
Published October 3rd, 2014
48fourteen Publishing

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BooksAMillion | 48fourteen | CKBrooke

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About the Author

ck brooke

C.K. Brooke is a 2015 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie author with a five-star rating by Readers’ Favorite. She holds numerous fantasy and romance publications with 48fourteen, Limitless Publishing, and Elphame Press. Her lifelong passion is books – reading, writing, editing, publishing and blogging about them. When not blissing out in literary land, she enjoys info-tainment podcasts, singing, songwriting and playing the piano. She lives in Washington, Michigan with her husband and young son. There’s tons to check out at the new CKBrooke.com, so come and see what she’s up to!

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Click the picture above for the GIVEAWAY!


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4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: awesome start to what is bound to be an AWESOME series!; love triangle? booooo…messy romance/lots of drama? YUM; LOVE the character growth, especially that seen in Cosmith; believable, realistic characters and relationships; some easy-to-spot plot twists, paired with some not-so-easy ones; this world sucked me in and held me captive, though there are some world-building issues

HUGE thanks to C.K. Brooke, 48fourteen Publishing, and YA Bound Book Tours for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title.

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Now, if you’ve been following my reviews for a while, you’ll know I don’t read much in the way of pure fantasy. Usually, I go more for the paranormal, or the magical, or the steampunk. I have nothing against fantasy–but as a genre, it ALONE doesn’t generally appeal to me. I usually need something on top of it. So why THIS book?! Why NOW?! I decided…I needed to branch out again, I suppose. And this cover? THIS COVER CALLED TO ME, penguins! This cover was like a beacon lighting my way, begging me for attention. I was also drawn in by the promise of a “love quadrangle,” though honestly I found this bit of the summary to be a lie–it’s more of a love triangle, in the end. Still, it was entertaining!

These characters are all so unique and complex. I particularly enjoyed Dainy’s feisty, stubborn, snarky nature–I mean, those are the traits I always look for in my favorite characters, so I’m glad she exhibited them. Cosmith, however… Cosmith took me completely by surprise. At the start of this journey, I was bound and determined to loathe him…….only for that to change as the story progressed and as he grew. There was so much character growth in him, guys, I couldn’t help but be swayed to his side. I don’t even know when, specifically, I began to see him not as a manipulative jerk, but as someone worthy of my reading time. Regardless, it happened. And the character I hoped to LOVE by the end of this… actually sort of made me loathe him somewhere in the middle! I was a mess of confused emotions, basically–but am so so pleased by this book as a whole.

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The plot is entertaining, filled with action and adventure. There were several deceptive red herrings and delicious plot twists…and some twists I saw coming a mile away. I laughed, I exclaimed–very loudly and in much surprise! I was enthralled, beginning to end. The prose is a bit awkward and heavy-handed at parts, written to emulate the way these characters speak. It’s more formal than I’m used to from books, but was also gorgeous and well-managed. It wasn’t ever TOO much, though sometimes walked a thin line there.

The world building was decent, though I have to admit to being a bit confused about the time period. This has been shelved as “historical” fiction a few times on goodreads, but….some of the technology (the blood lock, for instance) seems a bit advanced for historical fiction. I am also confused by the world as a whole–technology is all but unmentioned, which made it difficult to gauge exactly the time period. I wish there had been a few more hints along the way, to help better root me in the world itself–while I don’t feel I missed out on the world much, I feel as if there was a slight disconnect between my head and the book’s reality.

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Overall, this was an entertaining, snark-filled read–and I can’t wait to see what the next book brings our merry trio of characters! C.K. Brooke caught me by surprise with this one, enthralling and ensnaring me with poetic prose and creatively-captured characters. If you enjoy fantasy, “self-discovery” stories, and characters with their snark torches burning at both ends, this book should be right up your alley! I definitely recommend it!

YA Bound Book Tours

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Future Shock: Mystery, Mayhem, and Murder

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Future Shock

Future Shock Book 1
Goodreads Rating: 3.90 Stars
272 Pages
AW Teen Publishing
Publication Date: April 1st, 2016
Get a copy here!

What do you do when the future is too late, and the present is counting down to an inevitable moment?

Elena Martinez has street smarts, the ability for perfect recall, and a deadline: if she doesn’t find a job before she turns eighteen, she’ll be homeless. But then she gets an unexpected offer from Aether Corporation, the powerful Los Angeles tech giant. Along with four other recruits—Adam, Chris, Trent, and Zoe—Elena is being sent on a secret mission to bring back data from the future. All they have to do is get Aether the information they need, and the five of them will be set for life. It’s an offer Elena can’t refuse.

But something goes wrong when the time travelers arrive in the future. And they are forced to break the only rule they were given—not to look into their own fates. Now they have twenty-four hours to get back to the present and find a way to stop a seemingly inevitable future—and a murder—from happening. But changing the timeline has deadly consequences too. Who can Elena trust as she fights to save her life?

The first book in an unforgettable series about rewriting your destiny in the city of dreams.

4.25Penguins
Quick Reasons: very small emphasis on the romance–like, hardly at all, though it’s sort of instalove-esque; awesome mystery/thriller; lots of yummy world-building and twisty-turns; great cast of characters and wide array of “relationships” featured; different science to the time-travel lore we all know

I know it took me a while to get to this one, but HUGE thank yous to Elizabeth Briggs, AW Teen Publishing, and Casey at Media Masters Publicity for sending me an ARC copy of this book free in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this title. My selected quotes are from the ARC copy, so my apologies if they are different from or taken out of the finished version!

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First off: the world-building of this book is DELICIOUS. No tiny details are spared; Elizabeth Briggs put a lot of time and effort into making this story, and this world, coherent, seamless, and believable. I LOVE that every detail is thought out, described just enough to foreshadow…but left just open-ended enough to allow readers to be entertained and enthralled throughout. When I hit the 50% mark, I was almost positive I’d already put the pieces together and knew where the plot was headed…and then I read several chapters more, and found myself utterly confused. The mystery of this read is masterfully done, with just enough push and pull to keep even the most avid mystery readers guessing and leaping to red-herring answers.

The sense of “time running out,” particularly near the end, was also an awesome touch. While the characters have 24 hours in the future to figure things out and “solve” the mystery…in reality, that’s not much time at all. I also really liked that in the present-time, only 12 minutes pass. This was, in my opinion, an interesting way to do this–I’d be interested in knowing the why behind this, actually, as it’s not exactly explained (I mean, it’s not that important a detail, so no biggie either way).

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The characters, though… Especially Elena, our main narrator–she immediately tugged at my heartstrings. I LOVE how realistic and human these characters come off; they don’t feel like words on a page, but instead took up their own space in my head while reading. They lived, breathed, and entrenched themselves in my thoughts. Elena’s struggle, in particular, became my struggle–and I loved that about this book.

Like I said earlier, the plot is fast-paced, well considered, and easy to dive into even for the most-novice science fiction readers. You don’t have to know all the technical aspects of this book (because penguins knows I definitely didn’t, going in!) to be sucked into the world and dragged along for the ride. What little you DO need to understand…is explained quickly and thoroughly, though not in an overwhelming or confusing way. It’s obvious Elizabeth Briggs thought this out and strove to make sure that even people who’ve never read sci fi would understand and be entertained by this story.

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I had a ton of fun reading this book and being transported to, for at least a time, a world very different…and yet vaguely similar…to our own. The characters are realistic and endearing, the plot is full of twists and turns, and the journey is bound to enthrall even the most novice sci fi readers. If you love time travel, sassy characters, and well-written red herrings, you should definitely consider picking this book up!

 

4

Blog Tour (Review): The Voyage to Magical North

The Voyage to Magical North
by Claire Fayers
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Release Date: July 5th 2016
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Adventure, Magic, Childrens, Pirates, Fiction
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Synopsis:
Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past–if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she’s spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter.
When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship theOnion. Before you can say “pieces of eight,” they’re up to their necks in the pirates’ quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don’t even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she may find out who her parents are. And if she’s unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.
I live in South Wales, birthplace of the famous pirate, Henry Morgan. I used to work at Cardiff University, first in health and safety (you will notice that my pirates fight VERY safely) and then in the university science library. Now I write full-time at home with my husband and my two cats, usually stopped every chapter or two to let them in or out of the door. (My cats, not my husband: he can already open doors.)
In my free time, I like skiing, flying kites, and music – I can play the cello a bit and I’m learning the piano. I enjoy gardening and grow a lot of fruit and veg so if I come to visit you don’t be surprised if I bring a jar of jam.

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4Penguins
Quick Reasons: well first and most importantly, there are magical zombie flesh-eating penguins in this book!; awesome action/adventure story mixed with oral narratives and sea folklore; terrifying, creatively unique world-building; spine-chilling villains; great coming-of-age narrative with some heart-bending, wise moments; this was such a fun read!

HUGE thanks to Claire Fayers, Henry Holt and Co Publishing, Netgalley and The Fantastic Flying Book Club for setting me up with an advanced copy of this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my read of or opinions on this book.

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First things first: THAT COVER! Penguins, is that cover gorgeous! I mean seriously, just LOOK at it–you get the gist of this story without even having to crack open the cover, and I just adore when book designers manage to do that so beautifully. I knew, before I even read the synopsis, that I needed to read this book–and I am so so pleased to say I wasn’t wrong.

This mid-grade novel is at turns darkly humorous and incredibly terrifying. There’s so much snark being flung between the pages, I feared I might drown in it if I weren’t careful–and yet each character, in turn, is brought into a darker, scarier light…before finding that middle ground I so love in character development. That moment where the lightbulb blinks on, and I realize I know them exactly as I should. Basically, these characters are hilarious, and witty, and SO full of vibrant life I found myself wanting to be them throughout the read–or, at the very least, to know them.

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This book is also filled with realistic relationships and wholly natural, completely HUMAN doubts/fears. Each character is 3D–crafted and molded with the story, instead of feeling like paper dolls shoved in for entertainment purposes. No character is “just” anything–each is individualized, equally important, and entertaining or terrifying in their own rights. Each character is COMPLEX…and I appreciated that so, so much. In a book such as this, sometimes character development falls to the wayside to give emphasis to the adventure. Claire Fayers, instead, made each equally weighted and important, giving readers a well-rounded, awesomely enthralling book!

The plot is not lacking on the action/adventure front. This book begins with a bang, and doesn’t let up until the very end. Claire Fayers took well-known sea folklore and molded it with (and around!) the magic of this world. Her narrative is both convincingly real and utterly fantastic, leaving little room for readers to question the story or become lost in the details. The world is both very similar to our own…and yet, somehow, still vastly different. Well-known animals (I mentioned the flesh-eating penguins above!) are both very easy to “see” as their realistic counterparts…and terrifyingly, drastically changed to suit the story.

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This was, overall, a fantastically magical and entertaining read, and I cannot WAIT for you guys to pick it up! Not only is the cover beautiful–the story, the characters, the snark and the wisdom all come together to make a cohesive, enthralling journey. I definitely recommend this book to lovers of magical realism, sea voyages, and coming-of-age narratives. If those things appeal to you, or if this review sounds like your type of book, PICK IT UP!

3

Midnight Sky: I Refuse with that Ending. You Can’t Make Me!

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Midnight Sky (Dark Sky #2)

Dark Sky, Book 2
338 Pages
Expected Publication: August 2nd, 2016
Preorder a copy here!

There are secrets, there are betrayals, and there are sacrifices…

The Behemoth has been destroyed, and the bloodthirsty Hellions seem to have left Westraven. But Claire Abernathy’s mind is not at ease. A terrible disease plagues her sister, appearing to have been brought on the Vesper, the leader of the Hellions beyond the tear between worlds– the Breach.

To save Abby and stop the Hellions for good, Claire must find the machine her parents built before the attacks, and fix it before the monsters return. To do so, she needs the help of her crew, and must ignore the secrets and rivalries between her captain and the man she saved.

Because the Hellions are not the only dangers following Claire. Twisted humans and old enemies surface to stop her and destroy all she loves. While she is determined to endure the trials, a single betrayal could shatter the hope of a better world, and force Claire to make a choice that will cost her dearly…

4.75Penguins
Quick Reasons: OW, MY HEART! No, seriously, I’m pretty sure it just snapped into a trillion tiny pieces; once again, vampires versus pirates!; annoying love triangle used for plot; creeptastic characters and situation; THAT ENDING SHATTERED ME!; the idiot character stops being an idiot only to have the entire world fall to pieces

HUGE thanks to Amy Braun and Xpresso Book Tours for granting me early access to this title in exchange for an honest review! This in no way altered my opinions of or read on this book.

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AND I SWEAR, THAT ENDING! I might look calm and collected on the outside, but guys, I am screeeeeeching so loud on the inside right now. I can’t even. I don’t want to. I just… NO. No, give me these cinnamon roll characters and let me hug them close and love them for the rest of forever and tell them everything will be juuuuust fine. Let me do that, won’t you?! Because I cannot even with that cliffhanger ending. I just can’t, and you can’t make me. I refuse.

Seriously though–this series? You NEED this series in your life. Let me just word-vomit a few things here to tell you why you need this series in your life, yes? Okay. Let’s see. Vampires. Pirates. Steampunk. Alternate worlds. Aliens. Vampire aliens. Steampunk pirates. The sweetest love of EVARRRRRR. Strong family connections. SO. MUCH. DRAMA. Action/adventure. …Is that good enough for you yet? No? Well then.

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These characters are sassy, stubborn, and strong-willed. They breathe life across every page. They seep beneath your skin and wrap themselves around your veins. You will be rooting for them before you even realize what’s happening–trust me, this is a thing! These characters are, in my opinion, EVERYTHING I could ever ask for in a book–and more. Of course, there was one character I was very disgruntled with at the end of book one…and for pretty much the entirety of this book…who FINALLY, FINALLY! saw the light and took his head out of his butt, only to have the entire world fall apart around him. Because booooooo, that happens. But YAY for other things that happened before the world blew up! (I know, I know, this literally makes no sense but…SPOILERS!)

And this story! THIS. STORY! It is action/adventure taken to extremes. There is, obviously, a love story happening. There is a love triangle that, sadly, was used to propel the plot further. There is jealousy, and drama, and angst, and betrayal, and battles, and heartache, and…. Gah, pretty much every emotion you could imagine comes into play in these books in some way, and it’s beautiful. Also, they’re very quick reads–I finished both Crimson Sky and Midnight Sky in pretty much one short sitting, and didn’t even realize I was speeding through them until I hit the 90% mark and blinked around like a lunatic.

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Basically, these books are gold, and everybody needs to read them. Because I said so. They’re entertaining, quick to get through, and filled with snarky action scenes. You won’t regret picking this series up, guys, so if you’re into steampunk pirates, alien vampires, and emotionally-charged battles… Well, DO IT! Do it and don’t look back–I certainly won’t be! (But…now I am desperate for book three, and we all know how patient I am. Which is not at all. BOOK THREEEEE, I NEED YOU!)

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Game Review — Gone Home

Gone Home is a first-person adventure
exploration video game developed andpublished by The Fullbright Company. Wikipedia

Initial release date: August 15, 2013
Genre: Adventure game
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS

5PenguinsQuick Reasons: creepy and atmospheric backgrounds; pervasive sense of “racing time”; I jumped to several conclusions…which turned out to be all wrong; beautiful love story/coming-of-age journey; first person POV, which put me right in the action; tons of mystery and quiet drama
  • “But BETH!”  I hear you all shrieking.  “This is a GAME!  You don’t review GAMES!”

 

  • And you’d be right.  I usually don’t.  But I also don’t usually play THIS SORT of game–at least, I didn’t.  I think I might be branching out.  AGAIN.  And this sort of game?  First person POV, adventure/quiet drama, tells a story type?  Yeah, this is my JAM.

 

  • So this morning, the husband dropped by to see me at work.  “So…I finished that game I told you I downloaded on the PS4,” he said.  “Yeah.”  He nodded really hard for about five seconds.  “You should play it.  I think you should play it.  You really need to play it.”

 

  • Well, color me intrigued.  So tonight, when I was bored and seeking something to do…I decided to give it a whirl.  AND OH, MAH PENGUINS–best decision ever, guys.  And now I need more games like this.
  • So first things first:  this is, above all else, a story.  You play the whole game as Katie, freshly home from Europe and searching for her sister Sam, who has mysteriously disappeared.  The story is told BY Sam, through letters, through soundtracks, through photographs and clues… Seeing through Katie’s eyes, you follow where Sam leads, accessing hidden panels, secret doors, and other alcoves throughout the HUMONGOUS mansion they call their home.  There are mentions of ghosts.  There are creaking floorboards, a very angry thunderstorm, and other large-house noises to complete the experience (I listened to this through a headset.  If you can’t turn your volume up very loud on your TV, I recommend doing the same–you’ll miss things otherwise!)

 

  • And the story being told?  Is heartbreaking.  Sam is 17, and struggling to figure out high school and all the drama that comes with it.  She is also fighting to find acceptance–both within and outside of herself.  The notes are often heavy-handed, darkly humorous in places, and heart-wrenching.  Several times throughout the journey, I found myself questioning where the story was leading me–only to be very happily wrong at the end.
  • The attention to detail is also ASTOUNDING.  Just look at those pictures above–the designers left nothing out.  Every room has light switches or light strings to give better vantage to players; TVs and cassette players turn off and on at the click of a button…  And this house is HUGE, guys.  I sometimes felt, turning corners in hallways, as if it might just go on forever… which means there are a LOT of rooms, nooks, and crannies to cram with details and general stuff.

 

  • Overall, this was a highly enjoyable evening spent…and now I need more games like it in my world.  I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this journey earlier, but I am SO glad that I followed the husband’s orders and played this game!  It’s sort of like an “I Spy,” but for adults.  The moody atmosphere, the attention to detail, and the heart-wrenching story made for one HELL of a gaming experience; I can’t wait to see what else this (genre?) has to offer.
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A Review of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland #1), by Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)

Goodreads Rating: 3.97 Stars
247 Pages
Feiwel & Friends Publishing
Get a copy here!

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

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5Penguins
Quick Reasons: lyrical, beautiful prose; TONS of character growth and wise-reaching moments; the whimsy in this read is FANTASTIC; the characters are well-rounded and entertaining; the plot is action-packed and fast; there was one huge plot-twist I didn’t see coming; overall, plot twists were not an integral part of this read; the descriptions are poetic and easy-to-imagine

HOLY IMAGINATION AND WHIMSY, BATMAN!

I mean, seriously—this book is packed with vibrant prose, creativity, and lyrical wisdom patched to readers in subtle, small moments. Overall, this was exactly my kind of book—and now I’m wondering why it took me so long to get to it!

But no one may know the shape of the tale in which they move. And, perhaps, we do not truly know what sort of beast it is, either. Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.

I have nine highlighted sections in this book. Which, for me, is a fair number—I usually only find one or two (three, at most) moments that REALLY stand out to me as “quotable.” This book, on the other hand, I found such moments practically on every other page. The prose is lyrical, poetic, and absolutely beautiful. It seeps from the pages, into the readers’ pores, to burrow and spread like fungus. It sweeps readers out of their personal realities and into a world far-away and much-different—into a world where dreams come true and adventures are found on the wind. Of course, if you’re not a reader who appreciates or likes poetic reads, this book probably isn’t the best choice for you—there is a LOT of abstract language and open-ended descriptions to be found.

There are also a great many “wise” moments hidden within the poetry. There are moments when the narrator, semi-unreliable as it is, breaks off from the story to shove a moral into readers’ faces at full-speed. These were the moments I most appreciated the narrator—when the story stopped, just for a moment, to tear back the fourth-wall and remind me that I WAS reading, not actually living the story. And despite the wisdom to be found, there’s also a ton of snark and sarcasm coming into play. Little things introduced in the very beginning are brought back pages or chapters later. Catherynne M. Valente put her heart and soul into weaving this tapestry of a story together, and she did it with a sort of fairy tale-esque, whimsically delightful poignancy.

“That’s what a map is, you know. Just a memory. Just a wish to go back home— someday, somehow.”

The characters are well-rounded and complex, always breathing in and shaping up the ways they view the world or tackle their battles. There were a few “plot-twist” moments, but for the most part, this relied more heavily upon a thriving and artful imagination to drive the plot, not on things leaping out at readers to startle or take by surprise. There was really only ONE moment that caught me off-guard—a key point made pretty early on in the read brought back in one sweeping, sort of half-whispered moment of “hey, remember me?”

“This is for washing your wishes, September,” said Lye, breaking off another of her fingers with a thick snap. “For the wishes of one’s old life wither and shrivel like old leaves if they are not replaced with new wishes when the world changes. And the world always changes. Wishes get slimy, and their colors fade, and soon they are just mud, like all the rest of the mud, and not wishes at all, but regrets. The trouble is, not everyone can tell when they ought to launder their wishes. Even when one finds oneself in Fairyland and not at home at all, it is not always so easy to remember to catch the world in its changing and change with it.”

This book is filled with whimsy, magic, and wisdom. I recommend to lovers of mid-grade novels, coming-of-age tales, and those with a stomach for poetically beautiful prose. If you don’t mind a story that sweeps you out of reality and plops you into a wholly new and as yet-unexplored world, this is definitely the read for you! I can’t wait to jump into the second book of this series; I have a feeling there’s many more surprises yet in store for me.

2

A Review of Epitaphs (Echoes #2), by Therin Knite

Epitaphs (Echoes, #2)

Goodreads Rating: 4.36 Stars
352 Pages
Knite and Day Publishing
Get a copy here!

Adem Adamend still has it rough. His name is still ludicrous. His friends are still few. And his new boss likes to break his nose twice a week in combat training.

But when a local college senior is brutally murdered by the dream of a sandstorm brought to life–and the monsters hiding within–Adem finds himself swiftly ripped from his boring training curriculum and tossed into a web of secrets and lies in the heart of the city he calls home.

With threads pointing to the ruthless Columbian mob, a cyber-attack threat against multiple federal agencies, and the shadow of the man who sponsored Adem’s corrupt ex-mentor, the IBI-turned-EDPA agent knows he has little time before the body count rises exponentially.

But in order for Adem to solve the case, he’ll have to contend with old wounds still raw, a new team he doesn’t think he can trust, and his own developing echo powers…

…the last of which may pose the most dangerous threat of all.

– – – – –

4Penguins
Quick Reasons: Adem is still a quirky, arrogant genius; we get to see more of his “human” side in this sequel; the rest of the cast also are more vibrant, more rounded-out; the writing is still action-packed and humor-laced; there was some confusion on Adem’s name near the 60% mark—which annoyed me

Huge thanks to Therin Knite for, once again, providing me with an ecopy of this read in exchange for an honest review! This in no way changed my opinions or enjoyment of this book.

I’m holding an eight-pound turkey like a newborn in my arms when a flying bag of yams breaks a man’s jaw.

And then someone is murdered by a dream.

(Because this is my life we’re talking about.)

Warning for sensitive readers: there is graphic language and detailed violence in this book. There is a good amount of blood and gore, and several dozen murders. If you are triggered by or uncomfortable with this, please be sure to really think about picking this book up.

So…first off, I’m not sure I enjoyed this one QUITE as much as I did the first book in this series. I don’t know why this is, exactly—there’s still a TON of action, drama, and genius involved. Adem is still a snarky, arrogant, quirky character; Jin is still the strange, overly-attached sidekick. There are still plenty of dream sequences, violent life-or-death battles, and AHA! moments. But for some reason, I wasn’t as INTO this book as I was Echoes. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for this sort of read this time around; that’s what I’m hoping, at least, because I LOVE Therin Knite’s writing.

And that’s when I realize I’m sitting next to my body.

It’s lying on the floor, face down. Blood creeps out from around a gaping wound on my skull (and seeps from my nose). With the orange haze, I can’t be sure, but I swear I spot a flash of white bone beneath the bloody pulp and tangled, matted patch of hair. My body doesn’t move, doesn’t even twitch, and for years in seconds I don’t think it’s breathing, this thing with my face and my shape and my clothes and my recently acquired injuries.

I’m a ghost.

That’s the first thought that pops into my head.

I was killed by a f*cking statue, and now I’m a ghost.

That being said, this was still an entertaining, enjoyable read. The action kicks off right from the beginning; Therin Knite continues to astound me with her awesome writing and on-point plot. Perhaps the biggest thing I found lacking in this book were the plot twists—there didn’t seem to be as many as in Echoes. Instead, most of the answers were clear from the get-go (at least, to me) which made the “reveal” feel less authentic.

There were also some…spelling? inconsistencies in regards to Adem’s name near the 60% mark. I became confused pretty quickly, because suddenly (for at least one chapter) he began calling himself ADAM, instead of Adem. It caught me off guard, and sort of annoyed me overall—I actually took a second to wonder if I’d perhaps just been reading his name wrong this entire time. But no, it reverts back after that chapter. I’m not sure what happened there, but… Eh.

It’s a requirement for people in positions like theirs, breaking your heart until it heals calloused. Because they must be immovable rocks, reliable always, for their men and women to stand upon when the rest of the world shifts like sand beneath unsteady feet.

Overall, this was just the sort of quirky, adventurous read I’ve come to expect of Therin Knite’s novels, and I can’t WAIT for the concluding novel to come out this year…mostly because this book ends on a pretty spectacular cliff-hanger. I recommend this book to lovers of Inception, adventure-packed novels, and lots of life-or-death battle scenes. For the second book in a series, this held up pretty well; I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Adem in the future!