Review: Silent Symmetry (The Embodied Trilogy #1) by J.B. Dutton

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Title: Silent Symmetry
Author: J.B. Dutton
Format: Paperback and eBook
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 194
ISBN: 978-1484067468
Source: Author
Genre: YA Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Series: The Embodied Trilogy
Best Read in Order: yes
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon § Barnes&Noble

About the Book:

The Embodied glide through the busy streets of New York, uttering barely a sound. Their eerie beauty comes from their perfect symmetry. Are they flawless humans, the epitome of evolution? Are they a genetically modified super-race? Are they extra-terrestrials? Once prep school student Kari Marriner becomes aware of their existence, she is driven to seek out the answer and finds herself ensnared in a web that reaches further than she could possibly have imagined.

Kari’s earliest memory is her father’s death in a car crash back in small-town Wisconsin. Now, 12 years later, her mother has been hired by a pseudo-religious organization in Manhattan called the Temple of Truth (a.k.a. the ToT). At Chelsea Prep, Kari develops a crush on classmate Cruz. But when she realizes that Noon, another attractive guy at school, is involved with the ToT, her curiosity gets the better of her.

Kari stumbles upon a secret tunnel leading from her apartment to another in the building, where an ancient book holds images she can scarcely believe, and a cavernous room contains… something inexplicable. As Kari pieces together the incredible evidence, she discovers that the ToT is run by other-worldly beings called The Embodied who influence human behavior and have established a global long-term human breeding program. But why? And what is her role in all this?

Just as she starts wondering whether the love she feels for Cruz is genuine or if her emotions are being controlled by The Embodied, her mother is kidnapped and Kari has to figure out who is human, who is Embodied, and who she can count on to help rescue her mother.

Book Review:

Kari and her mother move to New York City for a new prestigious position, after leaving her small Wisconsin town and memories of her father’s accident there behind. For a teenaged protagonist, Kari was easy to relate to and care for: her sad past and her eagerness to find the new life, opportunities and possible love interests for her mother were endearing. As with many things, nothing is ever quite what it seems, and that also relates to the wonderful opportunities: scholarship to a prestigious high school, the beautiful people and the ease with which they seem to incorporate a major metropolis into their lives without great distress.

As Kari starts to feel seeds of unease, the questions start to arrive in a fast and furious manner: although the answers are far less apparent. Just what is the ToT and just how much influence it has on this world, and on the live of the people who work for them is a slow-developing reveal, mixed in this smoothly paced story that demands you read on.

I will be the first to admit that Kari is often far more mature in her approach, speech, thinking and behavior than one would expect, or want to see in a high school teen. However, when you take into account her life experience and her only child status, it did fit her well, even as it may be problematic for some readers. Aside from that and my wishing that there was more of an explanation and solidity built to give more substance to the characters of the Embodied, I did enjoy this read. I think that many YA fans would appreciate this story, and be ready to read the second book in the trilogy when it comes available.

I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author:

After graduating from film school in London, I emigrated to Montreal in 1987, where I still live with my two young children and their even younger goldfish. I spent over a decade as a music TV director before moving into the advertising industry as an award-winning copywriter and translator. In parallel to my corporate work, I’ve written novels, short stories, blogs, screenplays and a stage play. I also write Young Adult and Children’s fiction under the name J.B. Dutton.

Website § @johnbdutton

Author’s are Rockstars Hop – Introducing Amanda Sun

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Have you seen it? Those of us who read get as fan-girly as every groupie you have ever seen for our favorite authors.  When I saw the opportunity to get Amanda Sun here on my blog – I lept at the chance.  Her debut novel Ink just blew me away when I read it for inclusion in my Children’s reads week.  This YA novel uses imagery and mythology from Japan, incorporates the language and culture, and presents a story that gives a slice of life for an ex-pat teenaged girl.  I loved her research and incorporation of all of the elements that gave the story a unique perspective, and her ability to imagine and then reproduce her characters, making them feel current and modern, and allow them to make their own mistakes made it one of my favorite YA reads of the year.  And you can read my review after this lovely interview with Amanda Sun.  PLUS – don’t forget to enter the giveaway here on my blog for your own eBook copy (US and Canadian readers only) of Ink, Book 1 in the Paper Gods series, sponsored by the publisher.  Enter via this Rafflecopter – drawing will end on 9 August, with a winner announced on 10 August – notified via email.

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour HERE, and be sure to give love to the ladies who created this idea at Fiktshun, Two Chicks on Books,  and Magical Urban Fantasy Reads.

And now – I bring you  Amanda Sun

Thank you for being a willing participant in this process, I appreciate the time!
Let’s just get down to it:

Why a YA story? What difficulties did writing with a younger audience in mind bring?

I actually find writing for adults far more difficult. *laugh* I find adult characters can come across as tired or jaded, having dealt with too many “real life” woes. Teen characters have this energy to them; you can’t tell them they can’t do it. They know they can take on those evil fairy kings or moving drawings. You can’t stop them. There’s so much potential there, in their school life, their relationships, and their creative life—they’ll accept those paranormal powers and find a way to use them to succeed. That’s what I love about teen protags. I think YA fiction pushes the boundaries of what can be written, and it’s such an exciting genre to be in. 

The only difficulties that come up are things like getting the parents and responsibilities out of the way so that the teens can go and save the world. Curfews, homework, and other drama tend to get in the way, so it’s a tricky balance to have those aspects of their life included without taking over the story.

The cover of this book is striking and beautiful – did the same artist do the illustrations in the book as well?

Thank you so much! I really love all the detail the design team put into INK. The cover is watercolor paper, which speaks to Tomo’s work as an artist, and there are also illustrations and flip animations in the page corners. All the art relates back to the plot, and since INK is written from Katie’s POV, the art gives Tomo a chance to communicate directly to the reader through his artwork. 

The cover artist is Petra Dufkova, and the interior illustrator is Ross Siu. I think both styles really work well together to capture the style of Japanese ink wash paintings, and Tomo’s own personal sketching style. There are interviews with both artists in the back pages of INK, so you can find out more about them which is great. 

There’s also an enhanced ebook version of INK available for iOS devices, in which the illustrations and cover come to life through animation. It’s a really great touch to a book about drawings coming alive, and I think it really adds to the experience of The Paper Gods series. 

Your bio states that you speak several languages – which ones?

I love languages and I’ve studied quite a few, either on my own or by taking courses. I speak French and Japanese the most fluently. Then I understand Latin, Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic, Ojibwe/Anishinaabemowin (First Nations language), Spanish, and a bit of Welsh. I hope to learn more Welsh and Korean next!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given about writing?

Every word you write is getting you where you need to be. Don’t lose hope or be discouraged—it’s all leading somewhere. Just don’t stop writing. Keep going, and finish your stories. You’ll wander the forest forever if you don’t write your way back out. Sometimes writing is crawling a word at a time, and you’re covered in dirt and leaves and thorns, and you’re thirsty and tired. Sometimes writing hurts. It’s okay. That’s normal. Don’t be discouraged if your plot derails—sometimes it’s more exciting that way. Keep going, and your words won’t let you down.

What are your 3 must have items if you were to be stranded somewhere with only those items?
A stack of good books, my phone, and a giant pitcher of iced tea lemonade. Wait…you guys are coming back for me, right?…Right?

Slippers or socks? I actually prefer bare feet, especially in the summer. ^_^

Dogs or Cats? Birds! I have two, one with an awesome vocabulary that he uses in context. I love dogs too, but I’m allergic to cats.

Poutine or chips with vinegar? That’s a tough call. Being Canadian, I love both. ^_^ I think chips with malt vinegar wins out, but it’s a close call.

Anything else that you would like to share?

INK has an ebook novella prequel called SHADOW, which is currently free for download. It follows the events leading up to INK from both Katie and Tomo’s POVs. If you’re interested, please check my website AmandaSunBooks.com for info on how to download the novella. It can also be read on Wattpad for a limited time. Hope you enjoy it!

Thank you for taking the time to be my rockstar !

Thank you so much for having me on the blog! I think readers are rockstars too! 😀

Find and follow Amanda Sun by visiting her Website  §  @Amanda_Sun 

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Read on to see my review – and a larger copy of this gorgeous cover Continue reading

The Wizard In Wonderland – Book 1 of Oz-Wonderland Series by Ron Glick

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Title: Wizard In Wonderland
Author:  Ron Glick
Format:  Paperback and eBook
Publisher:  Self
Pages:  190
ISBN:  978-1481888516
Source:  Author
Genre:  Fantasy, Classic Reimagined
Series:  Oz-Wonderland Series # 1
Best Read in Order:  N/A
Stars:  4
Purchase Now:  Paperback §  Kindle

About the Book:

Dorothy Gale has been to some strange lands, but none as unexpected as 19th century Oxford, England. Yet this is exactly where Dorothy meets Alice Liddell, a young woman with her own fanciful stories of a place called Wonderland. Alice finds herself pulled into Oz to face a new Wicked Witch, while Dorothy must follow the Wizard into a Wonderland civil war. Unknown to either girl though, plots have arisen against both faery lands, and they must uncover the hidden history shared between these lands if they are ever to set things right again.

Written with a faithful eye to the original Baum and Carrol classics, The Wizard In Wonderland reveals the secrets of Oz and Wonderland in a story that brings together both classic heroines in a new epic adventure.

Book Review:

What starts as a simple mash-up of the classics Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz quickly takes a tangential leap and mixes the heroines from each story into a new adventure, with one primary motivation: find the Wizard.

I will admit to being familiar with and a fan of Carroll’s Alice, and familiar with although less fan-girl of the Oz stories: that is a simple bad association with the flying monkeys in the movie and well, I’ve never quite recovered. But, as characters, both Dorothy and Alice are familiar and comforting, bringing memories of first encounters with fantastical dream-like tales.

Ron Glick does not fail to maintain that otherworldly aura and feel in this story: giving the characters a whole new perspective as they hit that “here I go again” moment. In fact, the incorporation of the feel originally crafted by authors long gone is apparent, even as Glick is managing to create new adventures and larger roles for characters previously relegated to minor places or cameos, at least in the first books in the original series.

With twists and turns, as they chase the wizard and struggle with the new challenges they face, the pages fly by, as the two stories parallel and synchronize, informing each other as they maintain their singular progress. Strangely enough, were I to hear the genesis of the idea, and that it would be told in concurrent parallel stories it sounds confusing: in the reality it was clearly flowing from chapter to chapter, each new twist informing the end and providing fans of either or both books with a new perspective on the old tale.

This was a clever, well-written and even courageously conceived idea that did not fail to achieve the lofty goals set at page one. With a nod to the original styles that is apparent in the author’s handling of the stories, this is more than a simple rework of classics, but a reinvention of the stories that are so familiar. Sure to be a hit with fans of either, this just may be the key to encouraging you to read the classics again, if only to see how clever Glick was in his reinvented tale. My one sticking point: an abrupt ending that does feel unsatisfying. Knowing this is the first in the series does mitigate that somewhat – but more resolution is called for.

I received an eBook from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:
Ron Glick (born January 20, 1969) is a community activist, and presently operates a nonprofit adult sobriety program, GameHearts (http://GameHearts.org). He was born in Plainville, KS. After living in various states, he currently lives in Kalispell, MT. He is unmarried, with ambitions to someday change that. His poetry has been published in several publications through the years, and he is presently working on the second novel of the Godslayer Cycle, Two, and recovering an older novel from the corrupt wastelands of data storage, Tarinel’s Song.

Website § @Ron_Glick

 

 

The Children’s Story: A Novel, Not for Children by Robert A Krueger ~Review

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Title: The Children’s Story: A Novel, Not for Children
Author:  Robert A. Krueger
Format:  Paperback and eBook
Publisher:  Self Published
Pages:  266
ISBN: 978-1475293982
Source: Author
Genre: Literary Fiction, Fantasy
Stars: 5
Purchase Now:  Amazon §  Barnes & Noble

About the Book:

One morning young teen sisters decide to go for a walk, not realizing that this outing will change them forever. They become trapped in a strange land where the outrageous and bizarre seem normal. They only wish to find their way home; but this journey, which is not of their choosing, has a different purpose or so it seems as they are forced on their way. The people and animals they meet are outlandish or eccentric or sometimes normal. Each has a lesson to teach or perhaps not. They are bombarded with sense and with nonsense that may or may not be nonsense. In their minds, they fight to remain children, but they are neither child nor adult. Deep inside the sisters progressively understand that there is a purpose to their journey and that it has to do with good and evil. But they are neither free from torment nor from the absurd. They must overcome the temptation of evil if, in fact, they can recognize it. Interwoven with the sisters’ story are other tales of good and of the arrogance and depravity of evil (as in the Holocaust). Allegorically, this is everyone’s journey and everyone’s story. A non-traditional novel for Adults and Young Adults.

Book Review: 

It is a rare occurrence for me when a book cover, or the strangeness of the cover, serves to perfectly illustrate the wonder that is contained within. This cover manages to hint that this is not a simple story that will follow the predestined path, and that is exactly what happens.

What starts as an ordinary summer day turns into a philosophical and fantastical journey as these two sisters, Molly and Baby Sister head out for a walk. It feels rather ordinary, until it doesn’t. Coming face to face with fantastical creatures with stories to share, the girls are treated to stories of good and evil, and confronted with the most important element in those stories: choice. The choice to follow or lead, obey or ignore and how those choices or lack of making one can forever change your personal destiny.

This was possibly the most cleverly conceived story about decisions and choice that I have ever read: providing several examples from simple to dramatic to illustrate the options. Feeling very much like a combination of Alice in Wonderland and some odd dream state, the writing is crisp, clear and easy to relate to. Molly and Baby Sister are easy to visualize and example many of the sibling relationships that can be found anywhere. While their story seems to be separate, by the end the two do mesh in, and the line between fantasy and reality have blurred leaving only the lessons clear and present.

Each new encounter creates a memorable character or set of characters: some absurd, others closer to the expected but all providing a twist that will delight. Krueger has crafted a story that will entertain and demand you read it more than once. A good choice for teen and older readers, there are lessons to be found in the pages of a very entertaining story.

I received a copy of the book from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About the Author:

My life can be divided into three parts: military, business, and writing. I am a retired Army officer. I served in Germany near the end of WWII. This was a trigger for my interest in good and evil. For the most part, my Army duties were in the national intelligence field, but sometimes combat intelligence as in Vietnam. After retiring from the military, I spent a number of years in the business world, primarily in forecasting, planning, operations, and consulting.

I have always been interested in writing. I’ve written a number of business articles and have two books published and a third ready for publication. My published books are: “Business Forecasting: A Practical, Comprehensive, Resource for Managers and Practitioners” and “The Children’s Story, A Novel Not for Children” (about good and evil), which I wrote over several years. My new book is titled: “Business and Sales Forecasting, A Practical, Comprehensive Course of Instruction.” Would you say I have an eclectic personality?

My novel is really different. It combines reality, fantasy and fable, and allegory and metaphor. To tell the truth, the novel seemed, at times, to be writing itself, including the symbolic stuff. Both good and evil come in many costumes, some recognizable and others not so easily seen. I’ve tried to capture this idea as well as others.

I also review books for Amazon, which I find interesting and worthwhile.

 

Review: Knotted Roots By Ruthi Knight ~ with Giveaway

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This is a long tour with multiple stops – be sure to check out the Tour Schedule

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Title:  Knotted Roots
Author: Ruthi Knight
Format:  Paperback and eBook
Publisher:  Self-Published
Pages:  204
ISBN: 978-1482782042
Source: Author
Genre: YA Romance
Stars: 4
Purchase Now:  Amazon § Barnes & Noble  §  Kobo  §  Smashwords 

About the Book:

Partying with friends and scoring a flawless tan is about all Roxie has on her list of things to make her Hampton’s summer perfect.

Her parents, however, have other plans and Grandma Betty’s farm is just one of them.
Just as her life is in shambles and the quaint town is suffocating her, she meets Chase.
Somewhere in the mix of bummer summer and small town doldrums, he becomes the boy she can’t seem to avoid falling for. Just adding him to the picture, her stay starts to get better, even if she knows it has to end with the summer holidays.

That is until Betty drops a life-shattering bomb.

Roxie must make a choice that will change her life forever. What happens when a spoiled brat from New York learns the true meaning of love, loss, and forgiveness?

Can Chase and Roxie find a way to be together or is this just another summer romance?

See Knotted Roots on Goodreads

Book Review:

In a story that is a complete metaphor for growth, Ruthi Knox has introduced us to Roxie: a spoiled, seventeen year old girl completely obsessed with her own wants. When her summer plans for sun, sand and friends are derailed by her parents impending divorce: she is sent to South Carolina to stay with the grandmother she never knew.

Roxie is an angry brat through much of the story: while her anger does cover up a deep insecurity that is never really explained, she has a difficulty empathizing and feeling accepted. I believe some of the hints to her separation come from her mother, a cold fish if ever I saw one. What redeems Roxie is her ultimate ability to face her own fears and take a chance, with some take-no-prisoners moments from new friends, and coming to know and understand her grandmother. This development of her character was the obvious solution, but all the more satisfying because of her initial distastefulness.

Chase is a far more patient and thoughtful boy than one would ordinarily encounter: the push-pull from Roxie is all the more interesting for his reactions. Far from giving up and walking away, his efforts to get her to open up, and take chances are traits of a far more mature man. Whether that inner strength came from his sense of place and the gentle and not so gentle acceptance Betty offered him isn’t clear. But he also needs to work through some major losses and tragedies in his life: far more than Roxie ever did, and his maturity and willingness to move forward make him a standout.

Betty, Roxie’s grandmother is just fabulous. Her concern for those who rely on her, and her desire to know Roxie and share with her are readily apparent. Particularly striking is her unwillingness to allow Roxie to dictate: her silences work perfectly to highlight bad behaviors, and forced Roxie to look at her own behavior, even if she didn’t change it.

Other secondary characters were equally well developed and brought their own gifts to the story: from tough love friendship to background on her grandmother, there were few chance encounters with characters that did not serve the story or the plot.

But, there are some negatives that did affect the flow, although not in a dramatic way. There are some grammar issues with verb tenses, most notable early in the story and less so further on. Additionally, I am not a fan of “colloquial” speech that is written to make an accent. The frequent appearance of ‘ya ‘where you would have been more appropriate and felt cleaner did have me stopping and starting, often. I understand the concept and desire to make the conversation feel more real, but with the strong establishment of characters in place and voice, it didn’t work that well for me. This was a story that had a great deal of emotion evident and often felt: there is an underlying tension from Roxie that mirrors her own anxieties and the anger that masks her fears. There are no half-steps with these characters: you have instant reactions to them that strengthen and change as you delve into their characters. Completely readable and very engaging, this was a story that had many more positives than negatives: especially as a debut.

I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review as part of a tour. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

Giveaway:
You can enter to win one of these spectacular prizes!
1 Signed Paperback copy of Knotted Roots by Ruthi Knight
1 of 2 eBook copies of Knotted Roots by Ruthi Knight
1 of 2 eBook Copies of Hidden Falls by Ruthi Knight
1 of 2 beaded bookmarks
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About the Author:

If you had asked 6 year old Ruthi what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have told you a Rock Star. Those dreams faded to the background when she found out who the true Rock Stars are: Authors.

She has always had a fascination with books, losing herself completely in numerous books, enjoying the worlds she found that were so unlike her own. They were her escape, and eventually became her passion.

Her family has been putting up with her and her incoherent ramblings while she worked on her debut novel, Knotted Roots. Her five year old and Fiance have suffered through many “fend for yourself” nights, but somehow still manage to love her anyway.

She is now attending the Southern New Hampshire University, working on her Bachelor’s in Creative Writing/Fiction so that she can create her own worlds for others to fall in love with.

Okay, now that I’m done talking in the third person, let me just say that I love connecting with people via Facebook, Goodreads, my blog, etc. If you would like to chat, you can usually find me online at any given time. I also want to say thank you to each and every person who reads my book. It was a labor of love and I truly hope that you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Facebook § Blog § @RuthiKay  § Goodreads