Book Review: All About Mia by Lisa Williamson

All About Mia
Lisa Williamson
David Fickling Books, September 2017
ISBN 978-1-338-16397-1
Hardcover

Mia-in-the-middle is not doing well. Something like loneliness lingers, an itch that can’t be scratched. It doesn’t make sense to her that someone who adores alone time (but is never actually alone) could feel lonely. Anyway, the small window of time that gave her a bit of breathing space has slammed shut.

It felt decadent, using Grace’s room while her elder sibling spent her gap-year in Greece (no doubt doing something amazing). But now, out of the blue, Grace is coming home early. And she’s bringing her “spoddy” boyfriend. An aggravating situation exacerbated by the overwhelming excitement of their parents. Already annoying, on their love-crazed-wedding-planning-cloud, they are absolutely insufferable with enthusiastic joy.

Her younger sister, Audrey, will never be an ally. Aside from training for swim meets, she only has time for Beyoncé, her beloved guinea pig. Mia’s three best friends, generally good-to-go with whatever floats her boat, seem a bit strange and stand-offish. Not so supportive, terribly frustrating.

Initially, I didn’t like Mia. But then it hit me. I was seeing Mia through her eyes. Neither one of us had figured out that she wasn’t feeling very fond of herself. Or that she felt invisible. Slowly, I began to understand her outrageous behavior and blatant disregard for everyone close to her. Unable to articulate the aching emptiness; Mia could only act out.

I’m excited to share All About Mia with students here in the U. S. because I think that, like me, they will delight in the English dialect and phrasing and they will definitely appreciate the cultural differences. Which reminds me—in the U.S., the legal drinking age is 21. The Campbell-Richardson family resides in Rushton, a small English hamlet. Although Mia does over-indulge, and it is under-age drinking; it is in a world where wine (albeit watered-down) is welcome with evening meals and the legal drinking age is 18.

Mostly, I’ll be recommending this because I believe that everyone who meets Mia will feel a little less lonely.

Reviewed by jv poore, March 2018.

Advertisements

Book Review: Waypoint by Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins

************

Title: Waypoint
Series: Waypoint, Book One
Authors: Deborah Adams & Kimberley Perkins
Publisher: Rocket City Publishing
Publication Date: December 1, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic

************

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

************

Waypoint
Waypoint, Book One
Deborah Adams & Kimberley Perkins
Rocket City Publishing, December 2018
ISBN 978-1-7325071-0-4
Hardcover

From the publisher—

How far will they go to restore the power?

It’s been lights-out for three months and society is already falling into chaos.

Teenage tech-genius Simon Harper and his team of fellow gamers have been searching for the cause of the outage since it went down. Simon and his twin brother West are often at odds, but when the key to restoring power drops into their hands, they’ll risk everything and join forces to bring it back.

Mysterious deaths and disappearances are piling up, and unknown enemies are everywhere. As the brothers make their 500-mile journey to Waypoint they’ll have to decide who they can trust, and which secrets can be told.

At some time in the not too distant future, the powers that be decided that having one power grid would be a good idea. You know, consolidation of resources, leaner staffing needs, etc., and all that works just fine until the inevitable happens and the thing stops working. Oops, no Plan B.

Simon and West are twins by birth but that’s about the only thing they have in common. One is a hunky athletic type adored by all including himself while the other is your run of the mill gaming genius with no social skills and, somehow, they find themselves on a perhaps-hopeless quest to turn the power back on before humanity completely loses its you-know-what. Along the way, a couple of girls, Riya and Alex, join the boys and bring their own strong personalities to the splintered team.

A little romance, a lot of suspense and adventure to the max make Waypoint a fun read and it becomes especially page-turning when West and Simon get separated. I really enjoyed this and will wait with as much patience as possible for the next episode.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2018.

About the Authors

DEBORAH ADAMS and KIMBERLEY PERKINS are friends and coworkers. They share a love of coffee, literature, and teenagers saving the world. By day, they work for a defense contractor in Huntsville, Alabama as the HR Director and an Excel-wielding Analyst, respectively. By night, they build worlds with words and devour stories. For more information about Deborah Adams and Kimberley Perkins and their foray into writing, check them out on social media.

Website

************

Follow the tour here.

************

Book Review: Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Outrun the Wind
Elizabeth Tammi
Flux, November 2018
ISBN 978-1-63583-026-2
Trade Paperback

Never, ever forget to honor Artemis. This Greek goddess relishes revenge. With a fine-tuned, blood-curdling cruelty. One retaliation resulted in the creation of The Calydonian Boar. In an either epic display of ignorance, or a sick desire to taunt the deity, the very King that caused her anger, proceeds to order his son to select a hunting party to slay her beast.

Despite vehement opposition, Prince Meleager includes Atalanta. He knows she’s an asset as “…the fastest runner he’d ever heard of and the most precise archer he’d ever dreamed of,” but his comrades simply see a beautiful, but (by definition, useless) female.

Until the moment the boar is felled. And the men see Artemis, in her righteous rage and flanked by her huntresses, glaring at them over the corpse of her creation.

Then, the hunters happily give Atalanta full and complete credit for the kill. She has only one real option. Atalanta runs.

Fighting to make her own way (quite literally), Atalanta is followed by one of Artemis’ patronesses as her father frantically searches for her. Kahina, a natural huntress with hidden knowledge, makes it to Atalanta’s home first, and awaits her arrival.  It is when Atalanta and Kahina come together that the sparks really fly.

I’ve always been a fan of retold fairy-tales, so I was certainly psyched to check out mythology re-imagined. Ms. Tammi manages to stay true to themes; the lives of mere human beings are secondary to the quarrels among the gods and goddess, while keeping current with quick-witted, cutting dialogue. This is simply too good to keep to myself, so I’ll be sending my copy to my favorite classroom library. And I’ll be looking forward to more from Ms. Tammi.

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2018.

Book Review: Scythe by Christina Bauer

************

Title: Scythe
Series: Dimension Drift Worlds Prequel #1
Author: Christina Bauer
Publication Dates: April 24, 2018 and November 27, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Young Adult

************

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // iBooks
Indiebound // Amazon

************

Scythe
Dimension Drift Worlds Prequel #1
Christina Bauer
Monster House Books
ISBN 978-1945723049
Ebook April 2018
ISBN 978-1945723582
Trade Paperback November 2018

From the publisher—

Truth time. I go to a Learning Squirrel High School. Don’t judge.

On second thought, judge away. Learning Squirrel is one step above attending class in a junkyard. But what do you expect? Everything’s made out of garbage these days. At least, I have my freelance work to keep Mom and me housed, clothed, and fed. How? I’m your regular high school science geek for hire, except my work manipulates space-time. The good news is that these gigs pay really well; the bad news is that the government likes to kill people like me. Whatever. I’m not worried; hiding from their detection systems is easy for me.

Then I screw up one of my illegal projects. Badly.

In fact, things go so sideways that my house slips into two-dimensional space-time. The shift only lasts for a few seconds, but that’s long enough to set off a dozen government alarms. If those goons track me down, Mom and I are as good as dead. Long story short, I need to pay someone off, hide the evidence, and keep us safe.

Unfortunately, that means asking the Scythe for help. He runs the local underground crime scene and has absolutely no conscience…Or at least, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. It’s hard to think straight when a guy’s that hot in an ‘evil Mafioso kingpin’ kind of way. Most importantly, the Scythe is a crime lord who can conceal my slip-up with a few clicks on his minion’s computer keyboards. But the man has his price. In this case, the Scythe wants me to finish a certain dimensional prototype for him in twenty-four hours. I can do it, but it might mean Learning Squirrel High gets blown up in the process. Oh yes, and there’s also my new hot classmate who may or may not be an alien…and he says he’ll do anything to help me.

This job won’t be easy, but I’ve gotten out of worse scrapes. Maybe.

Wow. Just wow. If Scythe is any indication, the Dimension Drift series is going to be a corker, hands down.

Meimi is only 16 years old but she’s much older than the usual teenager, having lost her father and sister, acting as caretaker for her emotionally and mentally fragile mother and living in a world where monstrous beasts are created to “dispose” of undesirables as defined by the Authority. Meimi supports herself and her mother by doing freelance scientific work for the local crime lord, Scythe, and becoming beholden to him for their very survival is not a choice she would have willingly made, had she actually had a choice.

From the first few words, I was completely hooked on this story and its characters. The plot is full of nonstop action and tension while the characters, Meimi as well as others, are vividly drawn, even the exceedingly dangerous Lacerator, the newest of those killer monsters. Beyond all that, though, Ms. Bauer is a master craftsman of worldbuilding and that alone would have kept me fascinated.

There is only one thing wrong with Scythe—it’s a prequel and by the very nature of the beast (so to speak) that means the story ends way too quickly and leaves you hanging, swinging in the breeze. I really hope the next prequel, Umbra, will be out soon, followed by the first full-length novel, Alien Minds 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2018.

About the Author

Christina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers. The first three books in the series are now available as audiobooks on Audible and iTunes.

Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Stalk Christina On Social Media – She Loves It!
Blog: http://monsterhousebooks.com/blog/category/christina
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorBauer/
Twitter: @CB_Bauer
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christina_cb_bauer/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christina-bauer-481b12139/
Web site: http://monsterhousebooks.com/authors/cbauer

************

Follow the tour here.

************

Book Review: Watcher by AJ Eversley

************

Title: Watcher
Series: The Watcher Series, Book 1
Author: AJ Eversley
Narrators: Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
Publication Date: October 6, 2018

************

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

************

Watcher
The Watcher Series, Book 1
AJ Eversley
Narrated by Chelsea Stephens and Steve Campbell
AJ Eversley, October 2018
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

“First came the Bots. They were meant to serve us, but they turned and thousands died. Then the Carbons arrived and we were left with only a few hundred humans. After ten years of war, I’m one of the few survivors. I’m a Watcher, and I won’t give up the fight.”

As a Watcher, Sawyer Russo has sworn to protect her fellow humans. But the Bots and Carbons that overran her city are evolving, and are picking off her comrades one by one.

Embarking on a desperate mission to save humanity from extinction, Sawyer discovers that the line between friend and foe is no longer easily drawn when one of her own betrays them. Faced with a choice between fulfilling her vow and avenging those who have fallen, she must ultimately decide who can be saved…and who can’t.

There’s a kind of density to this story that makes it slow-going at first. Very little is given to the reader in terms of background early on so there’s much we don’t understand about Sawyer’s world and even less about Kenzie.  Sawyer herself stands out in a crowd but largely because she’s pretty much the only female and I found that to be at least somewhat unbelievable.

Sawyer lost her parents at the age of eight and managed to stay alive on her own for the next two years, finally joining up with this band of resisters. Perhaps it’s her early years that make her so reckless and defiant but that certainly makes her a more vibrant character, if not especially likeable. Following World War III, a nuclear holocaust, there are only pockets of humans left trying to survive against the Bots and Carbons, the latter sort of cloned copies of humans, and Sawyer is one of those survivors, along with her team. At heart, this is a story of trust and betrayal and the continuing fight against the machines that are evolving. The setting, on the other hand, is somewhat lacking in that we don’t really know where the two surviving cities are or how they came to be the only remaining cities.

Having two narrators, one for Sawyer and one for Kenzie, works well. Kenzie, in fact, is a bit of an unknown for quite a while and that certainly added to the sense of not fully understanding this world but it didn’t take me long to start liking him and I had a lot of sympathy for his own sense of isolation. Chelsea Stephens does a nice job of conveying Sawyer’s story as well as the other members of her team while Steve Campbell portrays Kenzie quite well. He’s not as vibrant as Ms. Stephens but that’s mostly because Sawyer’s part of the story is so much bigger.

All in all, this is a nicely crafted story of a dystopian world in our very near future and I’m eager to read more.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2018.

About the Author

AJ Eversley is the author of the WATCHER series. A true north Canadian girl, AJ currently lives in Central Alberta with her husband and dog. When she’s not writing, she can be found binge watching Harry Potter, quoting various movies in every day conversation, and eating copious amounts of candy.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

************

About the Narrators

Chelsea Stephens has a long time love and appreciation for the performing arts, with experience in on-stage acting, singing and voice over. Her love for reading books and the pursuit of the story led her to narration. She enjoys unfolding characters and bringing listeners into new worlds. Chelsea is an experienced voice actor with a talent for mystery, fantasy and YA novels. She’s a mom to a gaggle of young ones living in the Midwest with her lumbersexual husband.

*One and the same as Avery Reid.

Website // Twitter

Steve Campbell’s first priority as a voice-over artist is to convey your thoughts and ideas in an entertaining and insightful manner; not distracting from your message, but enhancing your words. It is his personal goal to help your audience engage with the text in an immersive and memorable way.

As a techie with a passion for performance and a love of the written word, the voice-over industry called to Steve. He is now fortunate enough to be living his dream of audiobook narration from his home studio, in Calgary, AB, Canada.

************

Play an excerpt here.

************

Follow the tour here.

************

Book Review: My Whole Truth by Mischa Thrace

My Whole Truth
Mischa Thrace
Flux, October 2018
ISBN 978-1-63583-024-8
Trade Paperback

I’ve struggled with this review for a few weeks, because I was stunned. Speechless. Now, I accept the fact that I will never find and assemble accurate words to aptly address my deep desire for everyone to read this book. But, I can’t keep not telling you about My Whole Truth by Mischa Thrace. So…

Starting this story is a bit like having a bucket of ice-cold water dumped over your head. From out of nowhere. That steal-your-breath, shocking feeling, fused with white-hot anger, stayed with me. Quite frankly, still simmers. Perhaps, because this Realistic Fiction plot is so current, it is almost creepy.

The scenario certainly sets me off, but there’s a brilliant balance with the sincere and effortless strength and support that Seelie receives from her friends. And because they are adolescents, situations can only stay serious for so long. Even from her hospital bed, merely moments after being attacked, Seelie stays true to teens everywhere by easily ignoring simple ‘stay still and quiet’ instructions. And she calls her friends, not a parent. Although, she is not wrong there.

If everyone had a best bud like Lyssa, there would be no more bullying. The ultimate antihero, I couldn’t help but cheer a little bit whenever she stepped out of line. From the minute she arrived in the emergency room, all the way to the end of the tortuous trial, Lyssa stuck by Seelie’s side.

Whereas, Seelie’s mother stayed busy with her restaurant, as usual. Since she wasn’t in the hayloft at the time, Mom couldn’t be expected to actually know what happened anyway. She does recall that Seelie has always been rude to Shane, while seemingly everyone else in the entire town adores the judge’s son. And maternal ambivalence is only the tip of the iceberg.

Reviewed by jv poore, October 2018.

Book Review: Toxic by Lydia Kang

************

Title: Toxic
Author: Lydia Kang
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication date: November 6, 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

************

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon

Indiebound // Entangled Pubishing

************

Toxic
Lydia Kang
Entangled Teen, November 2018
ISBN 978-1-64063-424-4
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Cyclo, the first and largest biological ship of its kind, is dying. A small crew of mercenaries have handed over the rights to their life to document the death of the ship, but the abandoned ship is anything but abandoned—one girl has been left behind.

Hana has known nothing but the isolation of a single room and the secret that has kept her there for seventeen years. When she meets Fennec, the boy assigned to watch her, she realizes that there is a world she has yet to experience but she is doomed to never meet.

When crew members begin mysteriously dying, Hana and Fenn realize that they are racing against the death of the ship to find a way to survive—unless someone kills them even before Hana’s truly had a chance to live.

I couldn’t help thinking of Kass Morgan’s The 100 when I first saw the description of this book. That’s not a bad thing as I’m a big fan of both the book series and the TV adaptation although they bear only a moderate resemblance to each other, as you might expect. At any rate, thinking of that series definitely made me want to try this and I’m very glad it did.

Imagine spending the entire nearly 17 years of your life secreted away in a 10-foot wide room from everyone except your mother on board a bioship in outer space . Logistically, that’s not as impossible as it might seem because we’re not talking about what we envision as a space vessel today; Cyclo is three kilometers wide so there’s plenty of room for hiding. Hana spends 48 to 72 hours at a time in a sleeping state so, when she wakes up one day to discover that it’s been a week since she last saw her scientist mother, she’s naturally upset and full of questions. Cyclo, usually quite willing to converse in her own way, offers no explanation other than, “Your mother is not here” and is clearly reluctant to open the door for Hana but she finally does so. Very quickly, panic begins to set in as Hana realizes Cyclo is not verbalizing as she usually does…and there are no people anywhere on board the ship. What Cyclo tells her then is the most frightening thing Hana can imagine, that her mother has abandoned her.

When Hana sees the light of a ship in the distance, approaching Cyclo, she’s sure her mother is coming back but, in fact, the ship is bringing a small crew on a suicide mission to gather data from the dying ship. The moment Hana and Fenn spot each other, not precisely a friendly meeting, everything changes for both of them.

Ms. Kang has done a wonderful job with her setting, particularly in making Cyclo seem so very real and truly vivid with her emotional colors and her ability to use her ectoplasm in so many ways. In fact, I’d have to say that Cyclo is a character just as central to the story as are Kana and Fenn. I also like that Hana is of Korean descent and that the mercenaries are all quite diverse, too. Hana’s rampant insecurities and Fenn’s roguish personality mesh well together and the author makes them, and their story, exciting and compelling. When all is said and done, this book is high on my list of favorite books read in 2018.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2018.

About the Author

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. She believes in science and knocking on wood, and currently lives in Omaha with her husband and three children.

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

************

Follow the tour here.

************