Monday, December 22, 2014

Hagridden by Samuel Snoek-Brown

Author:  Samuel Snoek-Brown
Publisher:  Columbus Press
Pages: 252
Release Date: August 19th, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

As the Civil War winds violently down, fears of the South's uncertain future fuse with its unraveling traditions. Against the backdrop of this post-apocalyptic landscape, so littered with corpses and mythology and desperation, two women, stranded and alone in the Louisiana bayou, fight to survive.

To be honest with you, I had a lot of trouble getting through this book. While the writer does have some talent and there is some good writing in the bones of this novel, there were just some stylistic things that bugged me at a point it made it difficult to even read. Between the confusing opening, to the odd writing style, I admit, I just couldn't get over some of my first impressions. 

The one thing that I severely disliked was the lack of quotation marks in Hagridden. Dialog was just throw in here and there and there was nothing to separate it from the rest of the text. I know, Samuel Snoek-Brown isn't the first author to use this technique, but it personally just distracting for me and interrupts the flow of a book. The speech itself did give a nice impression of the area and the people in the story, but I felt like I was often backtracking when I hit conversation to read it as intended. 

The other thing that gets annoying is the two women in this story never get names. Everyone around them is given an identity, but the main characters remain faceless. Again, this is a stylistic thing, but it made it hard for me to relate to them. When you start the story with so much distance, it makes it hard to immerse yourself.

The story itself was interesting. The pacing to start was awkward (I don't even know how to explain it, but it was just difficult to read. The perspectives felt off, and it sort of had that 'shaky camera angle' type feel to it), but after the first chapter it was easier to read. The story had a strong sense of place, and you could feel like you were in the correct point in history, which is always a plus with historical novels. Characters felt dynamic, and there was a good mix of events happening (romance, drama, suspense). It's a bit hard for me to talk about the story since the main characters don't have names, but the relationship dynamics were unique to see. I liked the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law relationship because it's a bit unusual. I also liked seeing their struggles with the husband of the girl out of the picture. 

Overall, the bones were really nice. Just some overlying problems that really kept me from getting into things. Other readers may really like this, but it wasn't the book for me in the end. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Taken With a Grain of Salt by Aaron Galvin

Taken With a Grain of Salt
Author:  Aaron Galvin
Publisher:  Self-Published
Pages: 294
Release Date: November 24, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Anyone can be taken - a simple truth for Salt folk, a stark reality for innocent teens Garrett Weaver and Kellen Winstel. Kidnapped by Selkie slave catchers and dragged into the realm beneath the waves, both teens must adapt to their new surroundings if they hope to see the shore again. Yet even if they escape their captors, both will need to embrace their fears. For darker things than Selkies lurk in the Salted depths and not all of them have pure intentions for the innocent ones brought down into their watery world.

To read my review of the first book in this series, Salted, click here.

Taken With a Grain of Salt is the sequel to the novel Salted, a book I reviewed back in March. Featuring the same great cast of characters, this novel further explores the world of the selkies, Salt Children, and their ocean bound world. While Salted started with a story line that largely centered in our world, this sequel explores the larger reaches of the salt, and the creatures that live there. 

What I like most about these novels is the characters continue to grow and develop as time wears on. While we follow multiple story lines, no character feels neglected and still feels important to the central story. I liked seeing the slow progression of Kellen and Garrett's relationship with the people around them, and I also enjoyed learning more of the lore that created the selkies and the system surrounding them. I will admit, it's hard to speak too much about any one element without throwing out spoilers, but I will say this book was great to fill in information that maybe wasn't in the first novel. 

I liked that this book brushed a little more against some of the mermaid elements, while still keeping it's own twists. The concept of selkies and the transformations involved is really cool, but it's also nice to see maybe some elements of what are more typical ocean tails. (tales, tails, yeah, really couldn't avoid that little moment there). I also enjoyed seeing that even those that were the authorities in the Salted world have larger forces they have to be on guard for. Always a bigger fish in the ocean right? Or something like that. 

Overall, I love the Salt series because it maintains an element of freshness. The elements the author uses just have a new feeling to them, and the characters are diverse, dynamic and really well rounded. As they adapt to new situations, powers, and relationships, each character in this story is truly tested by the ocean, fighting for survival in both an internal and external way. I enjoyed this book even more than the first one, so hopefully the rest of the series will continue to live up to my now high expectations for this author. No pressure right? 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Blog Update!

Hi guys!

In case you haven't noticed, there has been a sort of reading list train-wreck that occurred this month. My daytime job sort of took over my life for a few weeks, and I'm trying my best to catch up, so I appreciate your patience with me. My reading list calendar is going to require some reshuffling, so I apologize for any confusion that may cause.

If you were NaNoWriMoing, I bet you were pretty busy too! I have enjoyed meeting new authors this month, and have been excited to see new writers embracing the November chaos. I've also had a handful of new beta reading projects come through, so it's been great to see some works-in-progress on their way towards publication.

While I have one new review about to be release, here's a little teaser present for the holidays in honor of that review. Aaron Galvin has recently released one of my favorite books from this year, Salted, as a free ebook. So get out there and grab that freebee!

Meanwhile, stay tuned for my upcoming review of the sequelWith a Grain of Salt.

Happy Holidays and let's get December off to a good start!