Posted in YA Book Reviews

Calling

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Calling by C.S. Johnson, Narrated by Nicholas Santasier

Rating: 5 stars

Narrator Rating: 2 stars

 

I was given a copy of Calling in audio format in exchange for my honest review.

Calling is the second installment in the Starlight Chronicles. It continues to follow Dinger as he decides to “quit” being a starlight defender.  Being a defender became too much for him. He struggles with balancing a new girlfriend, school, swimming, his friends, and even his mom trying to sue Starry Night and Wingdinger on behalf of the city. As events unfold, Dinger slowly starts regretting his decision. Some of his cockiness starts to dissipate, even though he is still highly arrogant. I look forward to his continued growth in becoming an actual likable character. Even though I do not currently like him, his character traits are vital to the story so it works out and continues to be enjoyable. I really liked that this story took to the theme of what happens when people become jealous and the monsters they become. I am curious if Dinger has always been so narcissistic or at what point did it happen in his life where he felt so entitled.

I reviewed book one from an ebook format. This is the first book in the series I have reviewed as the audio version. I do not like the narrator. His voices all sound the same so sometimes it is hard to know who is talking. Also, the editing on this audio was not the greatest. There were several parts where the narrator stopped reading and picked up again, like he had lost his place. He also stumbled on a couple of sentences/words. I would listen to the story in parts, because it takes a little while to get used to the narration style. I will continue to review the books in this series for the audio format, but I can’t guarantee I will continue to listen to the narrator in future books. I feel I am being over generous for the narrator’s rating. I hope as he gets more comfortable in the story line, it becomes better. But also, in his defense, the editing is the fault of whomever is in charge for cutting out those bits and pieces where there are pauses or mistakes that are supposed to help the story flow smoothly. That is why I gave the generous 2. I can’t fault someone for making a mistake in the narration, when whomever edits is supposed to cut those parts out.

Even though I enjoyed the books, I think the narrator may be a miss for some people. That is why I give a narrator rating as well. The story was great, fast paced, never dull, and action packed. It is uniquely original in a sea full of the same styles of stories.

I look forward to watching the chemistry between Starry Night and Wingdinger unfold. I have my guesses of who Starry Night is, and am anxiously waiting until her identity is revealed. I have a sneaky suspicion that Dinger is not going to be too thrilled. I wont give away who I think it is, because I think readers and listeners should make their guesses themselves, because it is highly entertaining!! I also hope that there is more development in the Seven Deadly Sinisters and Orpheus. They are very intriguing and I look forward to learning more of their back story (hopefully) throughout the series.

 

 

Posted in Middle Grade

Aleks Mickelsen and the Twice Lost Fairy Well

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Aleks Mickelsen and the Twice Lost Fairy Well by Keira Gillett, narrated by Michele Carpenter 

Rating: 5 Stars

Narrator Rating: 5 Stars

I was given a copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I was super happy when book 4 in the Zaria Fierce series was released. This book follows Aleks and his journey towards either becoming totally human, or remaining changeling. It threw me off at first, but this book occurs 3 years after book 3 ends.

The day started out odd compared to every other day. First his mom lost her fridge, and then there was a fire in the chem lab at school. After school, on a plane ride with a few of the guys, the plane suddenly crashed. After the police brought the boys home, and Aleks to his house, Aleks went to his room, where Nori began knocking on his window. Nori convinced Aleks to get Zaria and come help find Fritjof, the last dragon, that is trying to escape.

Aleks, Geirr, Filip, Zaria, Christoffer, and Henrick all agree to follow Nori on the adventure to prevent Fritjof from escaping the Under Realm and end the pending throne war in Niffleheim. Aleks is worried as his age of maturity as a changeling is fast approaching. If he is still away from his human home at this time, he will stay that way forever. The group go on a wild adventure together, getting captured by the Wild Hunt all over again, to see that the king had been overthrown, and the first borns had been captured.

This story was just as amazing as the first 3 stories in the series. My biggest, and only, issue I had with the story was that the narrator changed the voice of Henrick in the story. It started out with one specific voice, however, as the story continued he began to sound EXACTLY like Hector, his father. That is really the only issue I had. Like the three before it, this story went fast and now I am saddened I have to wait for book 5 :(. There is so much that I loved about this story. Aleks is one of my favorite characters and I am so excited that he is getting his own stories so that readers can learn more about him and go on this journey of self discovery along with him and his friends.

Posted in Middle Grade

Strange Lands

Strange Lands by Anderson Atlas 

Goodreads Rating: 4 stars

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

 

I received a copy of Strange Lands in exchange for an honest review.

Allan is in the 8th grade when he is in a terrible car accident that killed both of his parents and left him wheel chair bound. His uncle, Rubic, comes to take care of him, but Allan struggles to get through the loss of not only his parents, but his ability to move. As such, he feels extremely helpless and useless.

One day, Rubic decides to take them camping because he believes fresh air and wilderness will do Allan some good, though Allan is not a fan of the camping idea. They were getting ready to go fishing, and a storm was coming and they were told to clear out by a Ranger. They didn’t, and went fishing anyway when boulders and large amounts of water come crashing through the lake. The water barrels over Rubic, who was trying to carry Allan to safety. Allan builds a small dam around Rubic to keep him safe and begins crawling to search for help, only he sees he is not in what looks like Earth anymore. From there he goes on an adventure through a land called Lan Darr.

It took me a while to finish this book. I won’t say it is slow, but it took a while to really capture my attention, so I would stop for a while and then go back to it. Once my attention was grabbed, though, I finished it rather quickly. The issue was primarily that, while I have an active imagination, I had a hard time visualizing what I was reading.

There are some pictures in the book, however, I find that they didn’t line up in sync with the story. Pictures were occurring prior to the part in the book that explains what is going on in that picture.

In regards to Allan’s disability, I liked that it shows how he starts out depressed and struggling to cope, but by the end, and every trial he faced, he found his worth.

I also liked how, at the end, even as the reader, I questioned if it actually happened or not. I think that is a good way to entice the reader to pick up the next book.

The picture below shows how the book was messed up and the about the author was put into the pages left of the story.

 

Posted in YA Book Reviews

Slumbering

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Slumbering by C.S. Johnson

Rating 5 stars

I received a copy of Slumbering in exchange for an honest review.

Slumbering is an uniquely, original, YA epic fantasy about a teenage boy that learns he was once a warrior for a Star Prince and at some point was sent to earth where he became human until his powers unlocked. As such, this story is about his “acceptance ” of responsibility for his role to fight off evil demons and protect his friends and community (the latter more so out of obligation than desire).

Even though I have given the book 5 stars, I absolutely cannot stand Hamilton Dinger. He makes the story hard to get into because he is so narcissistic it makes the story as a whole almost unbearable. Dinger thinks he is God’s gift to humanity (even though he would not agree that he was God’s gift…just a gift to everyone through nature ). So why the 5 stars? Because I couldn’t put it down and I found myself secretly hoping he gets it together and stops being such an asshat.

The book is a fairly quick read and flows well. It is also a completely original epic fantasy YA, which is hard to come by these days. It offers a unique story that is intriguing and will spark curiosity for the rest of the series and intrigue as to how this war will ultimately go down.

As much as I can’t stand Dinger, I am hoping he has a lot of character development that makes him a more likable super hero. It is entirely unfortunate that a jerk like him gets something so awesome and he continues to be arrogant. We all know what happens to arrogant superheroes.

The bulk of this story is to set up the characters in the story line, introduce some of the demons and what their end game is, as well as, portray Dinger as a jerk. Honestly, I don’t feel sorry for anything that happens to Dinger.

If you are curious about this book and would be interested in reading it for yourself (which I recommend) you can check it out: Amazon

Keep posted as I am currently listening to the next installment of the story!

Posted in Children Books

Gerturde and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man

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Gertrude and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man by Shari Tharp art by Jim Heath

Goodreads rating: 5 stars

 

I received this book through Goodreads Giveaway. This is my honest review.

Gertrude and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man  is a cute, short story, about Gertrude (goat) and Toby (turtle), two farm animals who like to go on adventures. This particular adventure starts off with the Farmer taking the prized pig to the fair. Gertrude and Toby decide to go off to town for an adventure. Along the way, they see a magic carpet flying in the woods. Shortly after, a young boy and girl running out of the woods away from a witch. The magic carpet flies underneath the children and brings them to safety by Gertrude and Toby. These two children are Hansel and Gretel. They tag along with Gertrude and Toby into town. Once there, they hear a scream and see a Gingerbread Man being carried by a beanstalk into the sky. The magic carpet took Gertrude and Toby up into the clouds to a cabin of a giant. Gertrude was able to rescue the Gingerbread Man and they escaped back to the town. The baker told Hansel and Gretel they could live with him, and Gertrude and Toby happily went back to their farm.

This was a cute story. This book is great for young children and is able to keep their interest. There are many pictures with a paragraph or few sentences on most pages. It is a great stepping stone book, or to be read to young children at bedtime. This is the second book, but you do not have to read the first book to follow along. Each book appears to be it’s own new adventure and is written in a way to keep kids interested.

I really liked the mixture of identifiable fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel, Gingerbread Man, and Jack and the Beanstalk. I think that is an interesting concept to include them. This was probably my favorite part of the story. I liked how they all connected to each other.

The illustrations were great. Jim Heath is a great artist and each picture was interesting and helps visualize the story.

Posted in YA Book Reviews

Geekerella

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Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Goodreads Rating: 5 stars

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

 

Geekerella is a modern-day Cinderella fairytale featuring Danielle, or Ella, who resides with her “stepmonster” and evil twin step-sisters. This book has everything from teen heart throbs, bloggers, CONS, witchy evil characters who are mean, and moments that touch the reader’s heart.

The great thing about this book is the total geekiness/fandom the story provides. First, it is a retelling of Cinderella. Ella does everything in the house, while trying to retain memories of her deceased parents. Ella tries to actively keep their memory alive, while the Stepmonster tries desperately to squash it out of Ella like some fly buzzing around a summer cake. Second, it has a mysterious budding friendship between Ella and THE Darien Freeman, who in this story, is kind of a big deal. Ella cannot stand that Mr. Heartthrob with insured abs is cast as the lead character in Starfield, Carmindor. She rants and raves about it on her blog…needless to say…Darien actually texts Ella thinking she is her father and the two have a budding friendship, with developing feelings. And the kicker… he has no clue she is THE Reblegunner blogger squashing his name in this role, and she has no clue he is Darien Freeman.

Of course, there are twists, and turns, and Ella goes to the ball, and then is grounded until death. But the adventures are fun and it turns into being a cute story that leaves the reader with feelings of joy and delight.

This story is an easy read, the whole book flew by pretty quickly. I like when books are just easy. Having said that, I wish there were a bit more challenges for Ella to overcome. Sure, glass slippers, and hopelessly devoted Carmindors are searching the States for Ella to confess their young love to, but I wish some of the interactions between “Stepmonster”, Catherine, and Ella were more indicative of the crap relationship enslaving Ella. Sure, Catherine is a witch with a capital B, but Ella was a spitfire and sometimes talked back. So I wanted MORE to go down between the two of them. Also, the last chapter or two, just breezed by eight months later…and I wish that was also a bit more dramatic than what it is lead to believe. The book follows the POV of Darien and Ella, and sometimes it focused too much on the little things, so when the drama did happen, it fizzled pretty quickly and didn’t pack quite the punch it could have. BUT. It was still a cute story, and I am still giving a decent rating. It was still entertaining, and one part in particular really had me teary. And when a book makes me cry, it gets a higher rating. We all need an ugly cry from time to time.

Finally, I loved what the book means for nerd girls. Ella was this nerdy girl who really thought she was a nobody throughout the ENTIRE story. It took all of her challenges she did go through like befriending a moody coworker, helping create a cosplay costume, dealing with stepmonster and the evil twins, introducing others to the glory of Starfield, and making unconventional friends from the stars. In Darien’s case, he sometimes came off whiney and I am not sure why it took him so long to take a stand. I felt that the drama between him and Brian could have been better written because it read weird. But I liked Darien. Closet geek. Those are the best.

And remember, look to the stars. Aim. Ignite.

Posted in YA Book Reviews

Untamed

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Untamed by Madeline Dyer

Rating: 5 Stars

 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. These are opinions are my own and I have not been paid for them.

Untamed was an interesting read. Not necessarily a bad kind of interesting, I am giving it 5 stars, but very interesting. It was a very unique take on a dark dystopian, especially when it is getting harder to be original in the dystopian genre.

The story is a fast read, and predictable for many aspects (I do not think this is necessarily a bad thing, because when other’s find out, it is pretty spectacular). Untamed has violent, graphic material, so if you do not like books in the YA genre that have death, killing, etc, in it, then this book may not be for you.

Seven is an Untamed. She feels, thinks, and sees untainted, unlike the Enhanced who only feel positive emotions and are supposed to be the top of the life chain as superior beings. An unfortunate event results in Seven’s capture and change to an Enhanced. She is however rescued from the Enhanced compound by her village, however many are disgusted because she is no longer untamed. While sleeping in her family’s hut, she dreams of a series of events and a bison in the sky. This indicates she is a Seer, which earns more leers and distrust from the village. The Enhanced come searching for Seven because she is a strong Seer and want her on their side. This sets of the whirlwind of adventures for Seven and some of her untamed village. 

As a note, I would advise against developing any attachments to any characters, as many die. This book is well developed with a clear plot line. The end left me curious about what will happen in book 2. The characters are enjoyable and easy to connect to. Seven is in an interesting situation where she is not quite enhanced yet no longer fully untamed. Eventually, she has to pick a side…which one will it be?

This book can easily be read in a day. It keeps the reader sucked in and is pretty fast paced from the very beginning. I look forward to continuing with Seven’s journey in future books. I am glad to have had the opportunity to read Untamed as it was very enjoyable and well worth the read.