Monday, September 17, 2018

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

First Impression: Great reviews and an animal's perspective usually make for a good story.

Characters: The people are observed by a cat, and maybe that's why they are uninteresting. The cat itself is simple and boring.

World Building: I don't want to go on the road with someone while he visits friends, and I definitely don't enjoy doing so in a book.

Writing Style: Maybe something got lost in translation, but the writing was too simple for me. More like middle grade fiction.

What I Enjoyed: It was a cute story, just not memorable.

Deal Benders: I think everyone who adores this book must be a cat lover, because I don't get the big deal. It was OK, but too hyped up for the delivery. Disappointed overall.

Overall Rating: 2 stars - I've already forgotten about it.

The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas

First Impression: I'm excited to see if this is a supervillain love story or what else unfolds.

Characters: Teenagers who sometimes act like adults and other times awkward children - so about right for the target audience.

World Building: Supers have powers, but there isn't a whole lot that goes into why. We're sort of dropped into the world, but it's not too distracting.

Writing Style: I can tell this is Banas' first book. While the last ten chapters are better than the rest of the book, there were many problematic things for me. The author is trying to hard sometimes to make the teenagers awkward. Certain dialogue is distracting and pulls the reader out of the story.

What I Enjoyed: As I mentioned, the last ten chapters really surprised me. Very cool finish and an interesting premise.

Deal Benders: Awkward dialogue at times that doesn't really represent teenagers. Also can we stop the trend of men showing up in women's bedrooms? It's not romantic, it's creepy.

Overall Rating: 3 stars - A fresh take on superhero antics, and an enjoyable quick read.

Called to Create by Jordan Raynor

I tell everyone about this book - read it. Get your hands on a copy if you are any kind of creative person.

Raynor talks about God as the first entrepreneur, and what that means for us since we are made in his image. If you've ever wondered how your 9-5 could possibly be as meaningful as your friend who goes on mission trips to Africa - this book is for you. If you've been trained to believe spending every waking minute at church serving is the only way to be a Christian - this book is for you. Accessible to read with relevant examples about how being a Christian and a creative business person are not mutually exclusive. Go get a copy!

Wonderblood by Julia Whicker

DNF - this book was too disturbing for me.

It might be good for those who enjoy gory and dark themes, but it was unsettling for my sensibilities. Trigger warnings abound. Not badly written, and interesting premise, but I think the author went too dark.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Body Institute by Carol Riggs

First Impression: I am a big fan of this author, so looking forward to her take on body swapping.

Characters: The main character Morgan definitely grows as the story unfolds. Her relationships with family, friends, and even enemies are relatable.

World Building: New tech and a bleak world are adeptly drawn, as political and moral commentary build suspense.

Writing Style: I appreciate how Riggs tells a story - thinking about details often missed by authors focused on driving the plot forward.

What I Enjoyed: In a plausible future, the government is involved in every aspect of our lives. I took this story as a cautionary tale - when we think letting our freedoms go in the name of security is a good idea with disasterous results.

Deal Benders: Morgan's attitude at times felt a bit cold instead of believable, especially towards her family. Some parts felt rushed, while others dragged on. The dialogue was a bit awkward at times as well...phrases and words that teenagers haven't said in a few decades.

Overall Rating: 3 stars - An interesting premise with good futuristic ideas.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Lost Girl (Lost Knight #2) by Candy Atkins

First Impression: I adored the first installment, and can't wait to continue this series!

Characters: Old friends like Jonah and Dathid make appearances throughout, while a host of new ones are introduced and expanded upon. Agatha remains sullen for most of this second book, but begins to find herself towards the end. The author challenges us to look past the surface of judging people at first sight as well as our prejudice by having Agatha interact with her new fellow citizens, so different from herself.

World Building: Where Atkins really shines is creating a fantastic yet beautiful world to explore. Creatures, characters, and scenery are invented or borrowed from legend.

Writing Style: Easy to read for any age, and clean for YA.

What I Enjoyed: I fell in love with Ashra, the parallel universe Agatha returned to after her 13 years on Earth. Concepts like time and the finest details of armor or food immerse the reader in another world.

Deal Benders: I don't care for Agatha sometimes, as I feel she is a bit whiny. I would have liked her character to develop gradually, instead of all at once towards the end of this book. Also, her relationships with old friends like Jonah and Dathid don't change, while she forms very quick and strong attachments to others.

Overall Rating: 4 stars - I really enjoy this series, and look forward to seeing what new adventures book 3 brings!

Recommended Reading:
Rhapsody Child of Blood (Symphony of Ages, #1) by Elizabeth Haydon Magyk (Septimus Heap, #1) by Angie Sage

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Construct 11 Part II: Trust and Loyalty by Anna Lynn Miller

First Impression: I can't wait to read Part II in this dystopian series!

Characters: Daniel and the rest of the Seventeens grow and mature while acquiring knowledge the Leaders never wanted them to find. Caretakers (parents) show their human flaws, and a predator roams the Construct.

World Building: Life inside Construct 11 is appropriately depicted as confining. I can't imagine living in a world where the sky is only seen through the roof of a building. There's a not-so-surprising yet satisfying ending to this installment that makes me want to read the third!

Writing Style: I appreciate Miller's ability to write for all ages while keeping seasoned readers interested. Once in a while I wished for better conversations between the teenage characters however, as they felt very Leave It To Beaver.

What I Enjoyed: Many of the themes in this series and installment are new ideas. Secret lives and hidden treasures made me bring this book with me everywhere. The chracters are overall authentic and the plot deals with issues in everyday society.

Deal Benders: The women are all depicted as helpless and emotional children who need men to protect them - this really annoyed me even though it makes sense in such a closed society story. I would like to see stronger female characters in Part 3 please!

Overall Rating: 4 stars - I really like this story and want to find out if the characters leave the Construct. Hopefully creating space for capable females along the way.

Recommended Reading:

The Lying Planet by Carol Riggs City of Words by Steven J. Carroll Hurst (The Hurst Chronicles #1) by Robin Crumby Truth (The Geneva Project, #1) by Christina Benjamin