Monday, October 20, 2014

Review: The Girl Who Came Back to Life by Craig Staufenberg (Tour Stop)

A book about love and loss, and how to live in a world filled with both...

When you die, your spirit wakes in the north, in the City of the Dead. There, you wander the cold until one of your living loved ones finds you, says "Goodbye," and Sends you to the next world.

After her parents die, 12-year-old Sophie refuses to release their spirits. Instead, she resolves to travel to the City of the Dead to bring her mother and father's spirits back home with her.

Taking the long pilgrimage north with her gruff & distant grandmother-by train, by foot, by boat; over ruined mountains and plains and oceans-Sophie struggles to return what death stole from her. Yet the journey offers her many hard, unexpected lessons-what to hold on to, when to let go, and who she must truly bring back to life.
My Rating
My Review

I don't always get drawn to Middle Grade titles, but I couldn't help myself with The Girl Who Came Back to Life. Not only do I love the cover (I know, I know, but it really does fit the way I feel about the book as well) but the concept grasped my attention as well. I was even more pleasantly surprised than expected when it came to this novel. It transported me into a new world that felt magical and truly in the spirit of the Fairytales I read in my younger years. It keeps that tradition and style while still maintaining a story that is refreshingly new.

Staufenberg crafts a world that pulled me in from the very beginning and didn't let me go until the end. It has that perfect amount of darkness in the tone that still allows the book to have a considerably light feeling. I was sucked into the life, and the death, of the story. Reading the novel is an adventure in itself, one that I took along with Sophie to the North. The setting felt very cinematic to me, and I enjoyed being able to visualize the concept.

I loved the concept of Sending the loved ones off, just as I loved Sophie's determination to avoid doing so with her one parents. Her unwillingness to let go was admirable and realistic, as most of us who have suffered a painful loss have felt the same way at some point. She was very mature for her age, although that worked well with her characterization. The relationship between Sophie and her grandmother was also intriguing to read about, given it isn't what all readers may expect.

All in all, I found The Girl Who Came Back to Life to be a very enjoyable read. The narrator allows us a good inside into this new world, which an authentic feel of a Fairytale. I recommend the work, and would definitely read more from this author in the future.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Review: Byronic by Sandi Beth Jones

When the creatures in her dark drawings come to life, Chelsea finds that the mysterious Geoff is the only person she can confide in. But she can't help wondering who she’s kissing: her tender confidant or the dangerous Byronic rebel bent on shocking his detached father.

Starting over in the South Carolina Lowcountry is just what sixteen-year-old Chelsea needs. Unfortunately, moving also means living with her mom's snobbish British novelist employer and his moody son Geoffrey. Knowing that her new home likely used to be a slave holding plantation doesn't make her feel any more at home.

Troubled and reckless after his brother's mysterious death, Geoff often mimics his father’s literary favorite, Lord Byron, acting "mad, bad, and dangerous to know." She's determined to keep her distance and buries herself in her art, though the darkness of her drawings troubles her and others who see them. When people in the Gullah and Geechee community point out that she has been drawing Boo Hags and haints -powerful and terrifying creatures of local legend and superstition- she starts to wonder about her own heritage and her connection to the Sea Islands. She begins to question her own grasp on reality when it seems those creatures start making their way out of her drawings and into real life.

It's clear that Geoff has some secrets of his own, but he might be the only person she can confide in. Chelsea must decide who she can trust, when nothing in the Lowcountry is what it seems.
My Rating
 My Review
Byronic is dark, addictive, and not easily put down. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience and could not turn the pages fast enough. The novel combines a contemporary world with myth and lore and I couldn't get enough of it.
The characters of Byronic are unique and well-developed. Chelsea is a great protagonist and an interesting voice. She's strong, but not stereotypical, and has a great personality. She always stayed true to her character, although I did feel that she reacted a bit simply to drawing disturbing images that might just be something more than a figment of her imagination. In addition, I loved the parallels between Geoff and Lord Byron. It allowed for a dark and brooding exterior personality that can be seen in a variety of stories to be unique and unforgettable. Of course, in my humble opinion, the real shining stars of the novel were the creatures of legend.
Yep. I'm on Team Boo Hags and haints on this one. Okay, so maybe I shouldn't quite word it as such, but I did love the concept of the creatures. If you're anything like me as a reader, you fall head over heels for a good example of lore and legend. Well, you won't be disappointed in this novel, which not only has supernatural creatures, but slowly introduces them through a different medium: art. (Yes, it's as awesome as it sounds.)
Byronic really did not have many slow points at all. I was able to devour the novel in about one sitting. If anything, I would have liked to see a bit more of the past. Not all the questions were answered, sure, but that just allows room for more. (No complaints there.) I really enjoyed the read, and recommend the novel to anyone interested.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Monarch by Belle Whittington (Tour Stop)

Blair Reynolds was born to rule. Worlds, that is. Destined to reign over an ancient intergalactic race, it may seem her fate is written in the stars. But she’s willing to risk it all for another chance to spend forever with her true love – even if it means traveling through time and space to the other side of the universe.

As far as Ash is concerned, Blair's happily-ever-after involves him, not the mere mortal with whom she seems so infatuated. She was bequeathed to him by her fatherand Ash will go to any lengths to keep Blair and her true love apart.

And Ash isn’t the only one.

Deep in the jungles of Brazil, where tribal drums call to Blair and her true love, other forces carry out dangerous secret plans.

However, Blair has secrets of her own … secrets so lethal she dares not even remember them.
Secrets so painful they could ruin everything.

Because some secrets kill.

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Belle was raised in deep East Texas.  She now resides somewhere north of Houston, Texas in a small inconsequential town with the smallest, most inconsequential name.  There, in the shady reaches of the pines, elms, and oaks, she daydreams adventures and secrets she weaves throughout her stories.  She’s the author of CICADA, FIREFLY, and MONARCH, a Young Adult/New Adult cross-over trilogy with excellent reviews.  She studied literature and history at University of Houston where Beowulf, Shakespeare’s works, and the history of the Vikings were her favorite topics.  Belle is positive her readers and fans are the best in the universe.

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 My Rating


My  Review

Not only is Monarch an excellent conclusion to Whittington's addictive trilogy, but it is an altogether wonder novel. I couldn't get enough of the story, and found myself tearing through the pages, overly eager to discover what would happen next. It's a stunning novel. Achingly beautiful. I enjoyed every minute of reading.

It's not often that a concept manages to combine an absolutely lovely romance with a brilliant science fiction, but Monarch does that. I loved the alien history that was incorporated into the novel. It built up a race that felt truly authentic and almost believable! In addition, the romance is on point. If you are a bit of a hopeless romantic when it comes to your fiction (it's okay, I'm right there with you), fear not. You will not be disappointed!

I adored the plot of Monarch, as it kept me guessing the entire time (and, to be honest, I was quite often wrong). There are more that enough twists, turns and reveals to keep readers invested in the novel. On top of that, the characters are all intriguing. Blair is a great protagonist and it's very exciting to see her inner conflict. Not to it just be or does Ash have some awesome quotes?

I loved Monarch and Whittington's entire trilogy. Without a doubt, I recommend.