Monday, September 29, 2014

The Sixteen by Ali B.

The Sixteen
Author:  Ali B.
Publisher:  Dewey Larson
Pages: 161
Release Date: July 30th, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

There are people out there who don’t die with their bodies. Their souls live on in the bodies of others. Some good, some bad—they are soul jumpers. 

Nothing in Iris Brave’s world make sense anymore. Her father, Micah, is still alive—his soul survives in the body of a teenage boy. 

It is up to Iris and a group of soul jumpers called the Sixteen to save Micah. To do so Iris must take on the unscrupulous leaders of the Council. Can she save her father? Will she survive? 

This is the second book in the Soul Jumpers Series, and so far my favorite of the two that are out. While I have commented before on how short these books are, overall I have enjoyed them. Iris is a fairly likable character, and The Sixteen does answer a lot of questions from the first book. If you're not a cliffhanger person, I would recommend maybe waiting until a few of these are out so you don't have to sit in suspense for so long, but I think there is a lot of potential here. 

In this story, we get to see a bit more of the inner workings of the Sixteen and the Council. Plot twists didn't feel too predictable, which is always nice, and Iris felt her age, yet did seem to develop a little as the book went on. I liked some of the new characters, like Lewis, and found the story easy to read in one sitting. While these books are aimed at a younger market, I think it was a nice series to pick up if you're older but just looking for some lighter reading material.

While I can't comment much more on the story without getting into spoiler territory, I will probably keep this series on my radar. It's unique, engaging, and entertaining. The only real flaw is the books are all so short! Oh well, can't win them all.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Review Preview

Hello everyone! I know it's been a rather quiet month, but I finally have some days off from work, so keep an eye out for a new stack of book reviews on it's way. I have a couple beta reads to finish, so there may be some quiet days, but hopefully things will get back into a routine here soon.

The first review I'm working on is The Sixteen by Ali B. My review of the first book, Iris Brave, just went up this week. If you're interested in that series, I noticed the first book is on sale for 99cents currently. But the sale could end at anytime, so pick it up while you can.

Another upcoming review is This Languid Earth by Paul McCormack. (link

I also got a stunning book in the mail this week, Iron Sky Dread Eagle, which I am super excited to pick up. I'm an artist, so I never grew out of enjoying books with pictures in them. The art is pretty fantastic.

While I'd love to list every book I'm reading, I'll leave some suspense. Looking forward to sharing my thoughts in the upcoming weeks! What books are you excited to read next?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Iris Brave by Ali B.

Iris Brave
Author:  Ali B.
Publisher:  New Shelves Publishing Services
Pages: 184
Release Date: August 6th, 2013
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Iris Brave isn't as courageous as her name suggests. That's about to change. Iris doesn't take risks. Heights make her dizzy and she prefers to swim in the shallow end... with nose plugs. On a summer visit to her grandpa's farm, a mysterious stranger shadows Iris, leaving her cryptic messages. When this outsider turns out be a phantom from her family's past, Iris sheds her timid ways to uncover the truth and protect the family she loves. Along the way Iris discovers family secrets and enigmatic figures that lead her to question everything she's ever thought was real.

When I got the chance to review this book, the concept seemed pretty interesting. I've read my share of novels, but the Soul Jumping concept is still pretty unique. While the writing is young,  I did enjoy the book overall (Keep in mind, some YA books easily appeal to adults, this one would appeal in the Middle School market, so the writing may be a little simplistic to some readers). Length was something that was personally a bit short, but again, that fits the market. A combined edition with several books would probably help this appeal to older readers, that way the abrupt ending doesn't feel as sudden. Younger readers may find the length more manageable though. 

Migrating back to the actual story...this book follows Iris, who is visiting her grandpa when a guy in a hoodie starts leaving her messages. At the same time, she is starting to learn bits and pieces about her families past. While the pacing is nice in these sections, and I like the way things unravel, there were a few points where facts seemed to be thrown in a little too abruptly. Some of that is just context editing (a transition needed here, some dialog smoothing there), so it's hard to tell if later editions of this book would fix those problems. There were also some typos along the way, the most noticeable being missing quotation marks and a characters name being misspelled, but some of those things are typical for review copies, so they may get fixed in later editions. 

I found Iris likable as a character, although some of the secondary characters felt a little flat, especially towards the end. Hopefully the sequel will build on some of those things though, so I'm waiting to see what will happen. I liked Iris' family overall, and the pacing of the novel. The only real complaint I probably had was Iris' age made a few things feel a little questionable. I didn't feel like enough adults really questioned her traveling alone at times, and there were a few points things were said in narration that also didn't seem to match up with her character. (I don't know many kids who would identify a gap between someone's teeth as a result of refusing to wear a retainer after braces. Since the narration is so personal to the character, small things like that detracted from the story).

It is hard to give much feedback on this book because it's so short. By the time we get to the end, a lot of questions haven't quite been answered, but it is a good launching point for the next novel. I enjoyed what I've seen so far, but a bit of my commentary will probably be reserved for book two. If you have any younger readers around though, this may be one to keep in mind. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Niko by Kayti Nika Raet

Author:  Kayti Nika Raet
Publisher:  Self-Published
Pages: 205
Release Date: April 29th, 2013
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

One can live for several weeks without food but only a few days without water, a fact that seventeen year old Niko is only too aware of as she struggles to provide for her two younger brothers in a post-apocalyptic landscape where the rain burns like acid, food grows scarce, and any Slither that crosses her path is laid low before it can sink its teeth into her.

Then one night everything she's ever worked for, everything she's ever loved is consumed by a raging fire, leaving her with one brother dead, the other missing and herself gravely injured.

She's rescued by the Rose Circle, a rogue group of Slither hunters. They sneak her into Amaryllis City, a decadent metropolis where those able to afford the exorbitant entrance fee live a life of relative ease.

But for Niko, Amaryllis City is not the haven she grew up believing it would be, the deeper she delves the nastier it gets and when her unique abilities as a Slither hunter are discovered things get positively filthy.

All Niko ever wanted to do was find her baby brother but that's proving to be harder than she ever would have expected

So, I feel like I need to start this review off with some disclosure: while this book had a unique plot and was really interesting, it's rating did get knocked down for me upfront just because of some of the distracting punctuation problems. I normally try not to mark books down for things like grammar and formatting (because I know sometimes they just sneak past) but there were a number of areas in this book where commas were needed, periods were needed, and it was generally hard to read because punctuation wasn't handled properly. When the editing gets in the way of how readable a book is, it makes it less enjoyable, thus the lower rating. The good news there is editing is one of the easiest things to fix, so later editions may not have the problems I encounter. 

Plot wise, I thought the story was interesting. The deadly properties of water in this world pose some unique threats, although I'm not sure how plausible it is from a scientific basis. The explanation about why the rain was so deadly felt a little hand-waved to me, but it was executed well, and I liked how people adapted in this society. The characters were diverse, although some of the romantic elements between them felt a bit...I guess unrealistic? I felt like maybe in this society relationships were handled a little differently, or should have been handled differently, but I didn't have much to really help me understand that side of life. I guess I questioned how Niko should handle her interactions with the guys when her society is about survival. How would people deal with feelings and affection and kissing? Has it changed from our society? I felt like there were some unanswered questions there. 

The Slithers and the plot around them added some twists, and I did want to read more by the time I reached the end. The pacing of the book was good, although I did wish the book was longer. It didn't feel entirely necessary to stop at the cliffhanger, but that's just me. I'm not a fan of cliffhangers like that. 

Overall, I did like the story, but there were small things around the way that were distracting from it, if that makes sense. The plot was good, and the transitions were nice, which could make a strong story, but the punctuation tripped me up and then it made it feel like a beta read. The characters were interesting, and I wanted to get to know them, which was great, but then the romance felt strange and sometimes forced. The world felt unique, yet it wasn't quite fleshed out enough to feel believable. Because of these things, I would probably just put this book in a "too-soon" pile. It's not bad, but it needs some time to get edited and polished before it can stand up to it's competition. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Full Moon Rising by J.A.J. Hutchisson & J.L. Hutchisson

Full Moon Rising
Author:  J.A.J. Hutchisson & J.L. Hutchisson
Publisher:  Self-Published
Pages: 352
Release Date: August 29th, 2013
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

After receiving a terrifying prophecy, Constin Sal Tamind, an Elder Priest in the Heartfield Church, gathers his daughter and those close to him in an attempt to outrun destiny. From the moment he decides to run, trouble seems to follow him, starting with the army at his city's gates.

As they desperately flee from the werewolf destined to protect his daughter, Olesa Tamind, who will one day save the known world, their resolve will be tested, their faith will be challenged, and their freedom will be in jeopardy.

During the journey, they will come across an unexpected companion and in the end, fight a danger worse than what they had originally fled from.

Werewolf books can be a hit or a miss in the current market; it's really hard for me to say where this story fell for me. While some areas read cleanly and seemed interesting, I felt the story needed some context editing before it appeal to a lot of readers. Some dialog felt flat, some scenes had repetitive words, and other small things stood out along the way, which can be common with self-published work. The biggest thing that kept me from really enjoying this work, however, was that it fell into the rather typical mythology. Overall, there wasn't enough that felt unique to this story that engaged me as a reader.

With fantasy, I really like seeing something new, but the werewolves in this book were just your pretty typical, turn into a wolf-man at a full moon werewolves. It's hard to get past the sort of "same old" vibe that gives off. The characters felt a bit predictable, and Olesa was really impossible for me to believe as a character. You know when a character is just way too perfect and innocent yet mature for their age and holds the fate of the whole world etc. etc? I am just not a fan of that sort of story.

I don't want to say this was poorly written, because there are elements that will appeal to some readers. I'm probably just not one of them. The structure wasn't terrible, just some of the elements of the story turned me off. About half-way through I was pushing myself to keep going because I didn't feel like there was enough I was interested in. I just felt...bored. Maybe it was just the characters that felt a little cookie cutter to me. Priests who can't trust a guy because he's a monster, little innocent girl that is constantly in danger and needs saving, elves who think they're better than everyone... In the end, I just got stuck at "meh". 

I appreciate that the author gave me a chance to read their work, and other readers may take away something different. This just fell into the "not my cup of tea" category for me personally.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Battle Not with Monsters by Overton Scott

Battle Not With Monsters
Author: Overton Scott
Publisher:  Good Heart Press
Pages: 360
Release Date: March 8, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Victim? Neen Ford is a loner, drifting from town to town, working as a security guard and teaching martial arts. One hot night in Dallas, she witnesses the brutal murder of a Ukrainian prostitute and becomes the killer’s next target. Neen’s never backed down from a fight, but she’s never tangled with a human trafficking ring before. Until now. Hero? Na├»ve young women are being trafficked into the United States by Russian criminals. Someone needs to help them. The police are trying, but they’re not moving fast enough for Neen, who is now being stalked by a man who enjoys inflicting pain. Vigilante? How far will Neen go to save herself? How far, to save three young women from a life of fear and suffering? And what price will she pay for battling the monster? There’s a thin line between hero and vigilante – will she cross it?

In books like this, more often than not women end up being the victims. Helpless damsels in distress wait for some tough guys to save them, or they are so manly and tough, they may as well just be men. What I loved about this book is Neen is believable: she's fit, trained in martial arts, but still feels fear when danger suddenly comes her way. She works two jobs, but still struggles a bit to stay afloat with her budget. She tries to eat well, but all her good habits don't keep her completely out of danger. This is a book about a confident woman who still has to make some tough decisions. I applaud it for steering around the character holes so many thrillers seem to throw out there. Neen was someone I could cheer for.

This book did get a little information heavy in some places, but I didn't mind it too much. We learned about self-defense. We learned about guns. We learned with Neen as she tries to avoid a killer who is out to get her. Neen doesn't just sit around and wait for the police to save her skin. While her actions may not be great from a role model point of view, it is fitting for her character. 

The only thing that felt a little lacking with this story was the roles of the problem solver guy, and the priest. While Neen was a strong character, I almost felt like these two men could have been lumped into one because they were introduced so close together. Had one come a little sooner, maybe I would have found their characters more believable. I am glad neither takes over the fight and turns Neen into a helpless victim, but I still felt they could have been fleshed out just a little bit more.

Overall, I was still really pleased with this story. Thank goodness for a strong female character who isn't just "one of the guys".

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Job! Thanks for your patience!

Hi guys,

Just a note to let you know I am still alive. I have a handful of books I am ready to review in the next few days, I've just been a little delayed by work. I got a new job, and I'm working 9 and 10 hour days right now which has taken up a huge chunk of my reading time. I'm also finishing up a handful of beta reads. So thanks for hanging in there!

Because this weeks Top Ten Tuesday didn't interest me quite enough to participate in, here's a mini preview of some of the reviews I am cooking up next: