Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun (Stone Braide Chronicles)

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah’s really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.

Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers–and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander’s distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her–Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.

With evocative descriptions of a strange new world that combines elements of scientific advances, political intrigue, and wilderness survival, Bonnie S. Calhoun weaves a captivating tale of a world more like our own than we may want to admit.”

My Review:

Thunder was an interesting novel that I was skeptical about. I read the synopsis and thought, Hm, the title and the cover are rather cliche, but it doesn’t look awful. Wait…hunting other people and selling them? Isn’t that…slavery? After I saw that, I was even more interested in reading this book. I know a guy who woke up one day and attempted to write a book about slavery, with little to no legitimate researched knowledge on the topic. The book quickly, painfully, thankfully fell apart. Slavery just isn’t the type of topic you can just hop out of bed and start writing about. So when I noticed (and it was impossible not to) that Calhoun has it as a rather large part of the book, I had to see how she was going to pull it off.

The verdict? It was respectful and I wasn’t left with the feeling that Calhoun wrote Thunder in a lackadaisical manner, but it still was centered on the capturing and selling actual beings. A post-apocalyptic slavery (in America no less) that sprang up due to another type of person that someone put a bounty on is an odd choice, given America’s history.

Onto the actual book: I wasn’t impressed. There was just no…Google, help me out, what word am I looking for? Enthusiasm? Maybe. When I read a book, there’s always some sort of inner voice that I hear reading with me. The one that creates the characters’ voices and really helps my mind use my five senses to really read. My inner voice was reading this story to me in the same way you talk about something you aren’t really interested in. A flat tone of voice, mechanical descriptions, just disinterested. Make no mistake, having the right amount of description in a young adult novel is hard. You either have no descriptive words/phrases or all of your sentences sound like this:
She gently lowered herself to the ground until her delicate fingers grasped the flower. Its pink color looked like the rosy cheeks of a newborn baby, quiet gibberish on their lips. The flower’s gossamer petals tickled the nerve-endings in her fingers as she sighed, thinking about Joseph.

Admittedly, this is a really descriptive piece, but in my opinion–even though I wrote it–it’s trying too hard and I don’t like it. It’s incredibly difficult to find that descriptive balance, but when it comes down to it, you would want your book to be over-descriptive, rather than not descriptive at all. Continue reading

By Darkness Hid (Blood of Kings series) by Jill Williamson

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Kindle Price: Free!

Official Review: 5/5

Synopsis:

Given the chance to train as a squire, kitchen servant Achan Cham hopes to pull himself out of his pitiful life and become a Kingsguard Knight. When Achan’s owner learns of his training, he forces Achan to spar with the Crown Prince–more of a death sentence than an honor. Meanwhile, strange voices in Achan’s head cause him to fear he’s going mad. While escorting the prince to a council presentation, their convoy is attacked. Achan is wounded and arrested, but escapes from prison–only to discover a secret about himself he never believed possible.

My Review:

While the cover of the book isn’t exactly exquisite, By Darkness Hid was a well written adventure in a new world.

The whole story was told in omnipotent third person as the story switched between Achan and Vrell, the two main characters, which was a wise choice on Williamson’s part. The point of view helps to move the plot along without unnecessary dialogue or scenes, since now the reader can see inside the two different characters’ heads. It’s going to be a little hard to write a good amount about Vrell and Achan since I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but we will see how it goes.

Achan Cham’s life broke my heart more than once. Each time it seemed that he could finally stand on top of the world, the earth would flip and he would be back on the bottom again. He was sweet, witty, strong in both mind and body, caring, hopeful, down to earth, and an amazing character. I loved that he had such a humble personality, but wasn’t afraid to talk back to people who were out of line, even if they were authority. He was an admirable man who did his best to handle the abuse that was thrown at him.

Continue reading

Germination (Feast of Weeds series) by Jamie Thornton

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Kindle Price: $2.99

Official Rating: 2/5

Synopsis:

A group of runaways. A horrifying virus.

Mary knows how to thrive on the street. She makes it her mission to keep other kids away from everyday monsters. But when she’s attacked by a crazed man clutching a bloody heart she realizes—there’s a new kind of monster in town.

A single drop of blood, and now Mary’s one of the infected. Unless she can stop the virus and save her friends, the new monster in town might just be her.

A post-apocalyptic Young Adult series where the runaways are the heroes, the zombies aren’t really zombies, and you can’t trust your memories—even if they’re all you have left.”

My Review:

If I had two words, I would describe Germination with “possibility” and “little.” Now if I had, say, a whole blog post to describe Germination, this is what I would say.

It wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t an awful novella that lowered my expectations for other novellas, but it wasn’t great. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, despite the action that takes place on almost every page. Nonetheless, I saw a sound plot which is why Germination received a two star rating.

Mary was a different pre-heroine. She wasn’t different because she was more special than the others (she wasn’t from what I could tell) nor was she different because she was the “only” one in the world that distrusts the government. Mary was different because she was poor and homeless. In a numerous amount of stories, the heroine is usually saying “We never have a lot of food on the table, but we’re happy because we’re together as a family.” or something along those lines. What made Mary stand out is that she has a family, yet she ran away, embraces her homelessness, and made a new family/tight-knit group with a few other homeless kids on the street. There wasn’t enough of the novella to really understand much more about Mary. You are brought to an understanding about her that she is loyal to her new family and that she writes a blog giving advice to other teens who might want to run away. Besides that, there isn’t much to go on.

The plot was fascinating, or rather, hints to being fascinating. That was what Thornton lacked in Germination: Plot building. She had successfully built the characters and gave them a backstory, albeit a small piece of a backstory, but it sufficed, she had completed the world building, and her description skills are admirable. Unfortunately, Germination didn’t have a chance to develop the upcoming plot. As a reader, I was left with a large amount of action, little information, and a bit of indifference towards the characters.
Germination isn’t worth almost three dollars; the price isn’t practical, especially when you consider the fact that it’s only ninety-two pages. It wasn’t a bad novella as I said, it had a glimmer of promise in its pages, but it just didn’t strike me as a riveting read.

I received a copy of this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Identity (Eyes Wide Open series) by Ted Dekker

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Official rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis:

“Identity is Book 1 of a four episode thrill ride from New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker.

Who am I?

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen and I’m about to die.

I’m buried in a coffin under tons of concrete. No one knows where I am. My heart sounds like a monster with clobber feet, running straight toward me. I’m lying on my back, soaked with sweat from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet. My hands and feet won’t stop shaking.

Some will say that I’m not really here. Some will say I’m delusional. Some will say that I don’t even exist. But who are they? I’m the one buried in a grave.

My name is Christy Snow. I’m seventeen. I’m about to die.

So who are you?

In a return to the kind of storytelling that made Black, Showdown and Three unforgettable, New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker drags that question into the light with this modern day parable about how we see ourselves.

Humming with intensity and blindsided twists, Eyes Wide Open is raw adrenaline from the first page to the last pure escapism packed with inescapable truth. Not all is as it seems. Or is it? Strap yourself in for the ride of your life. Literally.”

My review:

I wasn’t sure what I had expected from reading the synopsis (which I didn’t remember by the time I opened up this book), but it wasn’t this. I was completely engrossed in what was going to happen next, to the point where class had started ten minutes ago and I was accidentally ignoring a classmate who was trying to hand me the attendance sheet.

This episode was intense and if there was a line between a tiny bit scared and really intrigued I’d have one foot on each side. For whatever reason, I was expecting to read a book about Christy Snow, who is going to find herself and somehow the locket on the front cover is tied into that journey. Instead, I read an episode about Christy Snow getting trapped in a hair-raising predicament with a dangerous enemy that’s a bit unrealistic.

This is the first thriller book I’ve ever read (by accident) and it was good. The writing was great, little to no mistakes, with description that made the situations become vivid. However I had a few issues with it.

  1. Christy finds “ten pounds” to be fat. While I do understand that girls struggle with accepting their weight, ten pounds? I’m not sure why Dekker decided to slip that in there, but I wish it was explained a little more.
  2. Does Dekker understand how psychiatric wards work? Because I don’t. But, I do know this, unless everyone in the psychiatric ward is in on this scheme, the way they go about confirming patients is inefficient and ridiculous in this day and age (assuming it’s this day and age).
  3. (Spoiler) When Christy gets trapped underground because of the trap door, instead of wasting her battery on her dying phone by using the flashlight, why didn’t she call someone? If she had, the whole situation would have been fine. And let’s be honest, it would have been better to call the police rather than your best friend.
  4. Why would Christy answer the shrink provided by someone holding her against her will? If the psychiatric ward is corrupt, why would you want them to know exactly what’s going on with you? Keep that private so they have nothing on you.
  5.  If someone held you against your will in a psychiatric ward and insists that you’re someone else, would your first thought be: “Am I this person? Am I crazy and they’re telling the truth?” If it is then that’s a serious case of identity confusion. A few hours and you’re already ready to believe that you’re delusional and don’t know who you are? Come on, Christy.

There isn’t much to say about it since it’s only about six chapters long, but just to add, on Goodreads this series is tagged as Christian fiction. I’m not sure how he’ll tie Christianity into it, but I hope Dekker won’t mess it up. I would recommend this episode, it will take you about twenty minutes or so to read (depending on if you’re multitasking).