Review: The Arena

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The Arena is a science fiction novel by Santana Young and the Prequel to the Chronicles of Everen.

I read a lot of books. A LOT OF BOOKS. So believe me when I say this book was refreshingly original. I was captivated with the settings, with the characters, and the whole tone of the book. The combination of antiquity and science-fiction tech was brilliantly disorienting. You’d honestly forget you weren’t in Rome for whole chapters and then BAM you were back in space-times. It was so much fun.

The book was dark at times, and brutally honest, but the friendships between the characters and the idle banter, along with Duncan’s strength of personality, kept the book from being depressing.

As a prequel it did its job beautifully. I’ve never read anything in this series and now I want to. If anyone had read this series first they’d find a rich and entertaining story waiting for them.

A hearty five out of five stars.

Review: The Seeker’s Storm

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The Seeker’s Storm is a fantasy novel by Lea Carter. I would describe this as a steam-era fairy tale.

The world in this book is exceptionally detailed yet descriptions are doled out only when needed and in short, easily digested bursts. There is rich history and tradition here. While the character building was good I found the cast a little large too soon. I had trouble keeping first and last names connected to the right people. I also had trouble pinning down a time and technology period early in the book. Once I was into the book however everything flowed smoothly, it just took me a few chapters to get my bearings.

The plot is quick paced and intriguing though I found it very streamlined. Secrets were discovered easily, bad guys posed little true threat.

Honestly though I enjoyed the book. I liked the airships and the lightning machines. I liked the threat of winter because I know the isolation that comes with living in a rural area with an unreliable car and knee high drifts. I liked the characters and their light banter.

I got to the end and read through the author’s notes on names and places and realized this was not the first book set in this world. It is, however, the first book I read in this world, which may have added to my initial confusion. That being said – this is a stand along novel. You can read this and enjoy it without having any knowledge of the world.

Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and I look forward to exploring more books by Lea Carter.

Book Review – Dragonfly

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Dragonfly is a young adult paranormal romance by Alyssa Thiessen. You can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Dragonfly-Alyssa-Thiessen/dp/0994021003/ (Please note this is not an affiliate link).

Dragonfly is a quick, easy read, but perfect for grades 8 and up. It’s clean, so no sex, no graphic violence, no major swearing. What really sets this book apart are the wings. No dragon, bat, or angel wings here. Not even hawks like the Maximum Overdrive stories by Patterson. No, this time we have dragonfly wings.

I read this book with my book club so the first week we read chapters 1-9. In our first discussion we were listing all the possibilities for how the main character, 18 year old Joshua Miller, had ended up with dragonfly wings. Born that way? Mutant? Science experiment? Alien? What? Halfway through the book and you still have no idea.

The plot of the book is people centered. It’s about Joshua, a boy who has always hidden from the world for as long as he can remember, a boy with no family, no friends, no connections. Until he meets Lexi. His connection with Lexi triggers a whole series of mishaps that lead him to the only piece of his past he remembers. And from there we find out everything that Joshua doesn’t know about himself.

The book follows that winning YA romance structure: bored rich girl, roguish bad boy, becoming friends when they shouldn’t. Lots of him holding back because he’s no good for her and her stubbornly holding on because she’s never met anyone like him. But it was still a fun book to read. Really, Joshua and Eric and Nik aren’t so bad, Lexi was my only complaint with the book.

I gave this book 4 stars and would recommend it to young readers and anyone who likes YA fiction. I’m looking forward to her second book, which is not tied in to Dragonfly in any way, titled Infusion.

Book Review: Finding Gloria

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Finding Gloria is a memoir written by journalist Marianne Curtis. It can be found on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.ca/Finding-Gloria-Marianne-Curtis-ebook/dp/B007XA222Y (NOTE I do not receive any money from the sales of this book)

Finding Gloria is honest, sometimes funny, and often painful. Given up for adoption at birth Marianne lives through a traumatic childhood. She breaks free as a teen only to find that the emotional trauma has left scars, scars that send her reeling from one bad experience to the next.

Though brutally honest Marianne treats every member of her family and community with respect. She repeatedly states that this is her experience and her memories and nothing more. She omits every name, allowing those involved to maintain their privacy. And if she is honest about the shortcomings and failings of others she is twice as hard on herself.

This book was hard to put down. Our book club read it and we were all deeply moved and disturbed by the things that occurred in this book. But the book was uplifting as well. Here among the horrors of her childhood were the good people who helped her along. And she was able to eventually find her birth family.

5 stars. I would recommend this book to anyone, if you like non-fiction, if you or someone you know is a survivor of child abuse or sexual assault, if you are considering writing your own memoir, this is a must read book.

Book Review: If We Had No Winter

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I had the chance to read an ARC copy of this amazing book which is being officially released today by D.L. Pitchford. You can download your copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Had-Winter-Billie-Dixon-Book-ebook/dp/B06XR4PZ81/

If We Had No Winter is a contemporary drama set in a small college city in the US. The main character, Wilhelmina, is a freshman living in the dorms, just down the hall from her childhood friend and next door neighbour, Jimmy. In a refreshing twist there is no romantic connection between Jimmy and Wilhelmina (who is called Billie by her friends and Mina by her father).

Billie’s family includes her mother and sister (Imogene or Mo) back home and her father, Dr. Elijah Dixon, who is the head of the Mathematics department at the same college Billie is attending. Billie has not seen her father in the three years since he and her mother divorced.

Jimmy’s parents, Charlie and Thea (which is my grandmother’s name!) also feature strongly in the background. Other characters include various professors, Jimmy’s roommate, Xander, Billie’s roommate, Val, a half dozen other freshmen living in the same hallway, and Zane, a senior whom Billie is tutoring in Calculus.

 

I guess this book is best described as a coming of age novel. Billie has a lot of hang-ups because of the divorce. She was always closer to her father than her mother and he left. She has trouble with trust, with letting people in. Her pain and the way it manifests in her life is honest and feels very real. I never felt that she was whiny or annoying, except that I completely understood her friends’ frustrations with her. Xander was a complete ass but at least he was an honest ass and I found myself liking him even though Billie, the first person narrator, found him aggravating.

Billie was sympathetic without coming across as pathetic. She struggled without her issues feeling fake or repetitive. She gained ground and lost ground. She was stubborn and sometimes that resulted in some poor choices. She was hurt and that led to other poor choices. But she was always able to make her own choices and she had to face honest and realistic consequences for them.

Also – Zane was a detailed, subtly written character whose presence grew on you in a certain way. The reaction I had was exactly right for who he turned out to be. You could see the hints of it. It was masterfully portrayed.

I loved how each of the little steps Billie took towards growing up snowballed forcing her to take each of the next steps. But at the same time she still had every opportunity to make bad choices, and regularly did. She just felt so real. I could believe the choices she made and her motivation for making them.

 

I give this book a hearty 5 stars and I look forward to reading more by D.L. Pitchford, especially Billie Dixon Book 2.

Book Review: Charlotte’s Rescue

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Charlotte’s Rescue is a contemporary literary fiction novel written by Violet Moore. It can be found on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Charlottes-Rescue-Violet-Moore-ebook/dp/B00G80RFMC/ (NOTE I do not receive any money from the sale of these books)

Charlotte’s Rescue is one of the books we read at our book club. It is the first in a series of four (Charlotte on the Run, Charlotte’s Nemesis, Charlotte’s Reward). Charlotte’s Rescue begins with Charlotte’s birth and continues until she is 18 or 19 years old. Told in 3rd person we first get the view point of Charlotte’s mom, then Charlotte herself as she gets older.

Charlotte is a very good girl. So good in fact that I found her a little unbelievable. I know there are genuinely good people in the world but Charlotte rarely has those internal moments of conflict, the “I could slap him – no, you have to be nice. Deep breath, let it go” sort of thing. I found the other characters in the book more fleshed out and easier to connect with.

That small complaint aside the book is an easy read, very uplifting and overall light-hearted. What added to the reading pleasure for me was that it was set in the same small city where we have our book club, Steinbach, MB. If you enjoy books that are set in real places, where characters attend read schools and shop at read stores and eat at real restaurants then this book is for you. If you like reading about the early 90s, those years before cellphones and internet, a story set in a peaceful small town where people really care about each other, then this book is for you.

Just because this book is about real, average people doesn’t mean it’s boring. There is still conflict and tension but it is the sort that we can all identify with. I’ve never had to face a dragon but I’ve struggled to pay the bills. I think I’d rather face the dragon.

Violet does a beautiful job of capturing the joy and innocence of youth and the idyllic qualities of small town life.

I gave this book 4 stars and I am looking forward to finishing the series.

Book Review: Casey’s Climax

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Casey’s Climax is an erotic short romance for mature readers. 18+ is advised. The story was written by Jax Lane and can be found on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Caseys-Climax-Jax-Lane-ebook/dp/B01DOW75Q2/ (NOTE I do not receive any royalties or kickback from the sales of this book)

This was an odd story for me to read because most people don’t call me Casia – they call me Casey. However, I am not the super curvy sexpot teenager that is depicted in this story. Not at all.

This is a fairly typical erotic short featuring a too good to be true gorgeous teen girl who is so sexy she’s intimidating and can’t get laid even though she wants it. Her best friend is pretty enough to get laid but not as sexy as her BFF.

The story relates their various plans to get Casey laid, including a taboo encounter with her BFF’s father. Yes, Casey is 18 in this story so no underage sex occurs.

The sex scenes are, well, sexy. They weren’t exactly realistic but then I don’t think people read these for the realism. The dialogue was a little stiff but the text was relatively error free.

It was short, 9 chapters over roughly 20 pages. I found it a little overpriced for the length compared to other fiction in this genre.

I gave it 3 stars.

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