Book Review: Jadeite’s Journey by Lucinda Stein

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Title: Jadeite’s Journey
Author: Lucinda Stein
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing

Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult

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jadeites-journeyJadeite’s Journey
Lucinda Stein
Inkspell Publishing, January 2017
ISBN 978-0-9976212-6-6
Ebook

From the publisher—

When romance turns deadly…

Jadeite’s perfect world comes crashing down on her. In the futuristic world of United Society, her only problem has been how to act around the cute boy on the air shuttle. But Jadeite’s world changes when she comes across a man who looks alarmingly like her father. Clones were declared illegal years ago. When she sees her father, a robotic engineer, headed to the Dark Edge of United Society, she follows him and uncovers her father’s secret life.

Jadeite shadows her father past the boundary of United Society and into a primitive world of canyons and high deserts. She learns her father is a Ridge Runner passing between the two worlds. Even more alarming, she discovers her younger brother, Malachite, is sick and requires medicine only available from over the Ridge. After her father is arrested, Jadeite takes his place in order to save her brother’s life.

But her world turns even more precarious after she breaks up with her obsessive boyfriend, Mattie. Jadeite soon learns his threats are more than words, and she finds her life is in jeopardy.

Book covers DO make a difference, don’t they? It certainly did for me this time—as soon as I saw this one, I just had to know more so kudos to the cover artist, Najla Qamber.

No disease, no crime, no poverty, no death. Sounds great at first, right? No plants, no animals, all made extinct because they serve no purpose. No unproductive people allowed to exist. No right to decide who sits next to you. Maybe the positives of this society aren’t so positive after all but if you’ve never known any other way….

At first, I couldn’t get a clear idea of the time frame and the history leading up to Jadeite’s period with relation to our own time—the numbers didn’t seem to work—but I decided that wasn’t so important. I also found it troubling that the still remaining signs of pre-United Society civilization existed so closely to her sheltered environment but she nothing of it, seeming to contradict her persona as an intelligent, curious young lady. How is it possible that crumbling buildings and roads from our own time are within a brief shuttle ride and, yet, she had no idea? Leaving these issues aside, though, I was quite taken with the world Ms. Stein created with her attention to small details such that I could picture myself in Jadeite’s environment.

Jadeite herself is an appealing protagonist as are her family and her friend, Electra. Mattie, on the other hand, starts showing his questionable side early on and I would like to think such an intelligent girl would see through him but, alas, she falls for the surface as so many girls do. On the positive side, Jadeite soon begins to acknowledge her own doubts concerning facets of the United Society’s dicta and its harsh laws.

What Jadeite will do with the shocking things she learns is, of course, a large part of her story and I found myself intrigued with this girl’s life journey.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2017.

About the Author

lucinda-steinA school librarian for over twenty years, Stein now writes fulltime. Sanctuary: Family, Friends, & Strangers was a 2015 Colorado Book Award finalist. Three Threads Woven, was a 2010 WILLA Finalist. Her story, Sulfur Springs, won First Place in the 2011 LAURA Short Fiction competition. Her stories have appeared in Pooled Ink, The South Dakota Review, Fine Lines, and Women Writing the West online.

When not writing, she hikes desert canyons and alpine trails. She loves anything vintage, her shelter-rescued dog, Opie, and, most of all, her husband, Rob.

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Book Review: It’s Not Me, It’s You by Stephanie Kate Strohm

its-not-me-its-youIt’s Not Me, It’s You
Stephanie Kate Strohm
Point, October 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-95258-3
Hardcover

When Avery’s dumped mere days before the senior prom, that would be bad enough, but she’s prom committee chair and all the guys have dates. All the guys except the Nerd Squad who avoid things like prom in favor of an all night game rage. Included in that group is Hutch, her lab partner for all four years at their California prep school.

Determined to hold her head high and look successful on prom night, Avery turns her oral history assignment for English class into a psychological autopsy of her long and unsuccessful dating career. She hopes that by interviewing every one of her old boyfriends, she can learn why there were so many and what caused each breakup. Avery imagines this knowledge will somehow help her stay single and happy.

She enlists the help of Hutch and Coco Kim, her best friend, to accomplish this task. The list of exes is impressive, stretching back to fourth grade. The story is arranged in brief interview form, alternating between Avery, Hutch, Coco and whoever is the topic at the moment. Said topics include her arch nemesis Bizzy Stanhope, her parents, the principal, Ms. Sergerson, the teacher who gave her the assignment, the former boyfriends, random kids from school, a Vespa riding Italian boy, a TV star and even a pair of helicopter parents.

Avery must bulldoze (convince isn’t even on the table here), her teacher to let her forge ahead with this as a valid oral history project. After all, as she notes early on, history can be what happened five minutes ago. At first, the short paragraphs with rapidly changing viewpoints can be a bit disconcerting, but once you get into the flow and start being comfortable with the main characters’ personalities, it’s a mad and funny ride. There are times when you’re likely to cringe at Avery’s ‘blondness’ (after all more than a few exes bring up her long blonde hair as among their first impression of her) and a reader could get frustrated with what seems to be an aura of cluelessness and self-absorption, but Avery manages to dance back from that abyss at the right moment each time.

Halfway through the book, I realized where it was headed, but that made it all the more fun reading to see how Avery and the rest got there. It was particularly satisfying to read how she and the guy she was meant to be with saved the prom after it was sabotaged two days before it was to happen.

I’ve read and really enjoyed the author’s other books. She writes teen funny extremely well while keeping her characters sympathetic. Those are rare talents. This is a good book to offer young adults who like funny high school drama or a quirky love story.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, September 2016.

Book Review: Membrane by Michele Corriel

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Title: Membrane
Author: Michele Corriel
Publisher: Leap Books

Publication Date: October 10, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

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membraneMembrane
Michele Corriel
Leap Books, October 2016
ISBN
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

In the multi-verse people may look familiar, but no one is who they seem.

In a small town in Montana, Sophie lives with her quantum physicist mother, and her equally brilliant, but dangerously obsessed step-father.

Her father disappeared years ago under mysterious circumstances, but Sophie is still haunted by memories of him that seem so real she swears she feels his presence one night as she drifts off to sleep.

Realizing that somehow her missing father is trying to send her a message, Sophie decides to take a big risk.

With her friend, Eli, Sophie must discover what strange experiment her father did and understand the startling impact it has on her world and another, just across the membrane dividing the multi-verse.

Isn’t that cover eye-catching? Better yet, it reflects the story as well as any I’ve seen in a long time. The fractured title evokes the thin barrier between Sophie’s Earth and…whatever is on the other side…and the image of the man, who surely must be Sophie’s missing father, is almost haunting, kind of a ghost. Kudos to the cover artist, Nina Gauthier Gee.

The thing I really appreciated about Membrane is its simplicity. Here we have a girl living in a less-than-fabulous family, a girl whose father went missing years ago without any resolution. When she begins to believe he’s trying to reach out to her, she’s compelled to go through his journal for hints as to what might have happened to him, leading her to an incredible adventure with her friend, Eli. What they discover is life-altering and Sophie may be humanity’s last hope.

Sophie is a smart girl with plans for her future but, at the same time, she’s protective of her mother and has learned to cope as well as possible with her increasingly paranoid step-father, Ted. Eli could easily become more than a friend if only Sophie would allow herself to let him in and I have to say Eli is possibly the most appealing guy-friend-potential-love-interest I’ve found in young adult fiction. I’m so glad there’s no insta-love here, just a naturally growing connection between two decent kids.

On the whole, Membrane is an intriguing tale with vivid characters and twists you never see coming. Although we’re left with some unanswered questions, that’s quite natural and I turned the last page feeling more than satisfied.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2016.

About the Author

michele-corrielMichele Corriel lives and works in Montana’s scenic Gallatin Valley, surrounded by seven mountain ranges.

Her work is as varied as the life she’s led, from the rock/art venues of New York City to the rural back roads of the Rockies. With her fourth book just out from Leap Books, she’s also a prolific freelance magazine writer with articles regionally, nationally and internationally. Michele has received a number of awards for her non-fiction as well as her poetry. She also enjoys teaching, presenting writing workshops and speaking on panels across the country.

When she’s not writing you may find her on the golf course, hiking or slogging her way through the snow on what some people like to refer to as “skis.” You might also find her in the kitchen creating exciting new flavors or recreating classics.

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Book Review: Interference by Kay Honeyman

interferenceInterference
Kay Honeyman
Arthur A. Levine Books, September 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-81232-0
Hardcover

Kate Hamilton is genetically programmed to fix or make things right. After all, her dad is a U.S. Congressman from North Carolina and her grandfather and great grandfather held a similar office, only in Texas.  When her latest effort to reveal cheating by one of her fellow students at the posh DC high school they attend blows up, thanks to photoshopped and out of context pictures posted online, it also derails her dad’s re-election bid.

Her parents take an unusual tack. They cart Kate off to Red Dirt, Texas where the incumbent who held the seat her grandfather once had, has just died and a special interim election is going to be held. Dad was the star high school quarterback many still remember fondly…Many except Bo Stone who was the player replaced by Dad way back then. Bo is also intent upon running for the vacant seat and his son Kyle is now the quarterback for the local team.

Kate’s upset and angry when they arrive in the middle of nowhere, but no sooner do her parents tell her she can be free of campaigning and be a ‘normal teenager’ (as long as she stays out of the headlines), than Kate starts being seduced by the wide openness of Texas. One of her goals is to get back at her DC tormentor, but do it in an honorable way. She needs lots of volunteer hours as well as more photos for her art portfolio if she wants to get into a school where that is offered and one of three coveted letters of recommendation written by the principal for a graduating senior.

High school in Texas is a far cry from her old school and features a cast of characters that affect her in ways she never expected. There’s Ana Gomez who’s as good, maybe better a photographer than Kate. Ana is still acting like a deer in the headlights after lies were spread by an ex-boyfriend. There’s Ms. Serrano, the yearbook adviser who is more than she seems and challenges Kate in unexpected ways, but most of all, there’s Hunter, who she sees as a rude, slightly antagonistic student, who she first meets when she has her hands in a very embarrassing place when pressed into service by her prickly Aunt Celia to help with a difficult calving at the sanctuary.  Celia has spent her life rescuing stray and abandoned animals of all types (and naming each after a famous politician). She reluctantly accepts Kate’s offer to help out at the refuge near the home her dad inherited.

There aren’t any particularly unique elements in this story, but great recipes come out of common ingredients and that’s the kind of story this is. It’s about Kate’s growing awareness of how she needs to change, who she really is and how a congressman’s daughter can learn to love a small town in Texas as well as a guy she thought cared about someone else. It’s a great read and definitely worth adding to any school or public library caring about offering teens a neat read.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, September 2016.

Book Review: A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty

a-tangle-of-goldA Tangle of Gold
The Colors of Madeleine, Book 3
Jaclyn Moriarty
Arthur A. Levine Books, March 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-39740-7
Hardcover

This third installment in the Colors of Madeleine series begins with Elliot in our world, but after he makes an amazing discovery that tosses much of what he believed out the window, his stay is cut very short. Instead of building on what he and Madeleine developed as they worked to open the cracks in order to rescue the royals from our world, he’s whisked back to Cello, only to find himself tortured by very strong Greys while being held a hostage by the hostiles.

Meanwhile everything else is thrown into chaos. Princess Ko is branded a traitor and thrown in prison, the colors are becoming more aggressive and disrupting everything and it becomes ever harder to figure out who is really in the various factions. The Jagged Edge seems to have assumed control, while yet another group, the Circle, not before apparent but with strong connections to our world, becomes a player.

Madeleine suffers ever stronger nosebleeds, mixed with vivid visions of notable historic figures from our world and has to fight hard to save what little sanity she still has as she faces the very real possibility that her connection to Cello is about to be permanently closed. Her desperation, coupled with who she really is, help propel her back there at the right moment.

Readers will find the first part of the book is slower, but that’s necessary to expand the threads which need to be pretty clear as things speed up and numerous plot twists start unfurling in order for the somewhat frenetic finish to happen. Those make for a toe crimping experience as readers race along with the two characters you really want to be happy together in their attempt to figure out how and where to find the elusive thing needed to save Cello and the lands surrounding it by conquering the color storms and resurrecting the Cello Wind. It’s a dandy finish that will amply reward readers who have come along for the ride and, best of all, they’ll get to imagine their own happily ever after.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, August 2016.

Book Review: Wear White to Your Funeral by Lisa Acerbo

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Title: Wear White to Your Funeral
Author: Lisa Acerbo
Publication Date: October 28, 2016
Genres: Mystery, Romance, Young Adult

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wear-white-to-your-funeralWear White to Your Funeral
Lisa Acerbo
Destiny Whispers Publishing, October 2016
ISBN 978-1-943504-17-6
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

She died wearing white, now it’s time for your funeral. Rory is your average high school senior. Or she was, until her mother banishes her to hell, also known as Trumbull, Connecticut. The small suburb with only a mall and movie theater, sure feels like the netherworld until Rory’s first day at her new school. That’s the day she meets Bowen, who begs her to join him on a class project. But when Bowen drags her to a graveyard after dark for research purposes, Rory wants to fly back home to Atlanta, or at least return to her aunt’s house unharmed and unmolested. Nothing could go wrong, right? They talk, they laugh, and they wander among the tombstones looking for information on the local ghostly legend known as the White Lady. Then they have to run, but they cannot outrun a ghost.

A half buried dead body and the ghostly apparition lead Rory and Bowen into a deadly game of cat and mouse, but who is the killer? Is it human or something long dead and otherworldly? The police are of little help, Rory’s aunt just wants her to remain safe, and Bowen, who she can’t stay away from, keeps finding ways to get her into more trouble than she has ever known. Whether breaking into a suspected killer’s house, being followed by a menacing ghost, or being stalked at school, Rory hopes finding the killer will put an end to the supernatural haunting. Before Rory can discover the identity of the killer, she is drawn into the mystery of the White Lady, which opens the door for some very real danger.

Rory is a girl from the big city and moving from Atlanta to a dinky town in Connecticut is definitely not her idea of a fun thing to do, especially since it’s her senior year in high school. There is absolutely nothing to do in Trumbull so, when she meets Bowen and gets partnered with him for a school project, at least life gets a little more interesting…until they see the woman in white in the cemetery one night. That ghost is nothing, though, compared to the body they practically fall over after Bowen convinces Rory to go back to the cemetery another night.

From that point on, this appealing pair of teens become more and more enmeshed in the mystery of the dead body but they can’t ignore what seems to have been a ghost. Are the body and the ghost connected in some way? Is there a human killer or perhaps something a bit more supernatural and is this adventure turning into an otherworldly nightmare?

Wear White to Your Funeral was a fun read that I found quite entertaining with a nice blend of adventure, suspense and romance along with just enough spookiness to add a touch of creepiness while the teens step further and further into danger. The actual mystery is a little lightweight but not so much that I couldn’t enjoy the story entirely and I’m really glad this book engaged me as much as an earlier one by Ms. Acerbo (https://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/book-review-remote-by-lisa-acerbo/) .

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2016.

About the Author

Lisa AcerboLisa Acerbo is a high school teacher and holds an EdD in Educational Leadership. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, daughters, three cats, and horse. She is the author of Apocalipstick and has contributed to local newspapers, news and travel blogs including The Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter.

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Book Review: Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie—and a Giveaway!

Love Literary StyleLove Literary Style
Karin Gillespie
Henery Press, November 2016
ISBN 978-1-63511-085-2
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

They say opposites attract, and what could be more opposite than a stuffy literary writer falling in love with a self-published romance writer?

Meet novelist Aaron Mite. He lives in a flea-infested rented alcove, and his girlfriend Emma, a combative bookstore owner, has just dumped him. He meets Laurie Lee at a writers’ colony and mistakenly believes her to be a renowned writer of important fiction. When he discovers she’s a self-published romance author, he’s already fallen in love with her.

Aaron thinks genre fiction is an affront to the fiction-writing craft. He likes to quotes the essayist, Arthur Krystal who claims literary fiction “melts the frozen sea inside of us.” Ironically Aaron doesn’t seem to realize that, despite his lofty literary aspirations, he’s emotionally frozen, due, in part, to a childhood tragedy. The vivacious Laurie, lover of flamingo-patterned attire and all things hot pink, is the one person who might be capable of melting him.

Their relationship is initially made in literary heaven but when Aaron loses his contract with a prestigious press, and Laurie’s novel is optioned by a major film studio, the differences in their literary sensibilities and temperaments drive them apart.

In a clumsy attempt to win Laurie back, Aaron employs the tropes of romance novels. Too late. She’s already taken up with Ross, a prolific author of Nicholas Sparks-like love stories. Initially Laurie is more comfortable with the slick and superficial Ross, but circumstances force her to go deeper with her writing and confront a painful past. Maybe Aaron and Laurie have more in common than they imagined.

Karin Gillespie is an author I’ve come to look forward to and I have yet to find one of her books that I don’t like a whole lot. I’m delighted I can still say that after reading Love Literary Style.

The description of the story is enough to draw in a lot of readers but it’s especially appealing to anyone who’s been involved in the book industry as I have, first as a bookstore owner and later as a book blogger. For decades, there’s been a hot debate going on about the relative worth of so-called literary fiction and its “poorer” cousin, genre fiction, i.e., the kind that’s popular. I fall squarely in the genre camp and, yes, I have on occasion looked at literary fiction with a bit of a snobbish eye but my attitude doesn’t hold a candle to the supercilious outlook sometimes seen on the other side.

And, so, I was all set to be completely entertained and indeed I was despite my usual lack of interest in reading romance. My antipathy was definitely lessened because this is not the sappy or bodice-ripping kind of romance that I really don’t like and there’s a lighthearted ambience to it that made it appealing and kept me turning pages.

Aaron and Laurie are delightful characters, full of quirkiness and vulnerability, and many of the secondary players are just as engaging. I laughed out loud a lot, particularly when Aaron begins to recognize his own book elitism and his failure to be a social butterfly, and I loved Laurie’s singleminded yet reluctant determination to do a little heartbreak mending by having a fling with this stick-in-the-mud. As might be expected, said fling turns into something more and then takes a nosedive.

Once again, Ms. Gillespie has worked her magic with an engaging story and vivid characters and re-confirmed my love of Southern fiction. Love Literary Style just made it to my list of favorite books read in 2016 and now I’m anticipating this most talented author’s next work.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2016.

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READ an excerpt at Karin’s website, HERE.

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About the Author

karin-gillespieKarin Gillespie is the author of the national bestselling Bottom Dollar Girls series, 2016 Georgia Author of the Year, Co-author for Jill Connor Browne’s novel Sweet Potato Queen’s First Big Ass Novel. Her latest novel Love Literary Style was inspired by a New York Times article called “Masters in Chick Lit” that went viral and was shared by literary luminaries like Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Rice. She’s written for the Washington Post and Writer Magazine and is book columnist and humor columnist for the Augusta Chronicle and Augusta Magazine respectively. She received a Georgia Author of the Year Award in 2016.

Connect with Karin

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Follow the tour:

Tuesday, November 1st: A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, November 2nd: Bibliotica

Wednesday, November 2nd: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Friday, November 4th: View from the Birdhouse

Monday, November 7th: Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, November 8th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, November 8th: Buried Under Books

Wednesday, November 9th: Wall to Wall Books

Thursday, November 10th: Reading is my Superpower

Thursday, November 10th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Friday, November 11th: Not in Jersey

Sunday, November 13th: Writer Unboxed – author guest post

Monday, November 14th: From the TBR Pile

Tuesday, November 15th: Bewitched Bookworms

Wednesday, November 16th: Buried Under Romance

Thursday, November 17th: Thoughts on This ‘N That

Monday, November 21st: Joyfully Retired

Tuesday, November 22nd: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Monday, November 28th: Patricia’s Wisdom

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To enter the drawing for a paperback
copy of Love Literary Style, leave a
comment below. The winning name will
be drawn Friday evening, November 11th.
Open to residents of the US and Canada.

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