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Friday, November 25, 2011

Farsighted - Emily Chand

I've been gone for a bit, but not because I've had nothing to do. I've had the pleasure of reading a number of books for review, and here is one of them. "Farsighted" by Emily Chand, and I should add it was a real pleasure to read indeed.

Score: 30
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can
still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin
to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on
destiny and demand it reconsider.

What worked:

At first I was a little apprehensive about reading the book. There I said it. It sounded cool, interesting, unique in a few ways, but I usually end up having a bone to pick with these kinds of books (I'll get into this later though). I found myself pleasantly surprised though. And here's why:

First and foremost, this was a well written book. Given the number of independent books and especially self-published books I've read, this is a real treat. The language flows nicely, the characters are realistic, have personality, and Chand truly has a gift with word usage. And knows how to edit! These things made the story even more enjoyable because I was able to read and just get lost in the story for a change. And the story is easy to get lost in. The first day I picked it up I had every intent of just reading for a little bit and instead got about 90-pages in. Given that I'm a slow reader, this is pretty cool.

The second thing I loved about this book is the sensory details. The main character is blind, so naturally the story is going to be told through things that are not sight related. The author does a great job of this. It's great to "see" the world in a new way.

Generally my bone to pick with stories like this one is the concept of can you really alter your future? But the book does a good job of dealing with this issue. Plot-wise the story is definitely more coming of age than I thought. I was expecting more paranormal elements, and there were a lot, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't the focus of the story. Same could be said about the romance. Which I should add, I don't ship the cannon pairing, in case the Author was curious.

Finally, the characters were all diverse and easy to connect with. Having a main character you care about is always important in a story, and Alex is definitely a real teenage boy - angst and all. He has social quirks, unique ticks, mannerisms, and flaws. There were times where I didn't like him because he had real flaws. In fact, any time I didn't like a character, it was because of a flaw (sans one, but I'll get to that later).

Overall, it's a great read.

What doesn't work:

Most of the things I didn't like about the book are purely personal. One of them was pacing. There were a few spots where it felt a little off. Descriptions about activities that I wasn't particularly interested in. The other one was that I just didn't like Simmi much, but I'm not going fault the author for that. She's a gentle person, but came across as kind of flat. There's a lot I would like to see expanded about her life. The other thing I had an issue with was the how the mother came to term with everything.  All of them are minor things though. There wasn't anything that really made me not enjoy the book, but I can't sit and say it's a perfect one either.

I would recommend this book to both male and female readers though for sure! Great story, and a fun, easy read.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Psyched Out - M.A. MacAfee review

Can a human pacemaker implanted in a dog cause the animal to take on human traits? Absolutely! Ollie Kline would answer, and he ought to know. An aspiring psychic detective with a cardiac pacemaker, Ollie is killed in a drive-by shooting outside the Pastime where he tends bar. He awakes inside Mugsy, a pug dog, who also has a heart problem and who receives Ollie’s recycled pacemaker. Aware his cardiac device was stolen from his corpse, Ollie wonders what other body parts were taken. Ollie uses his telepathic powers to enlist the help of Nora Cole, the sister of Mugsy’s owner. On receiving Ollie’s thoughts from the dog, Nora fears she’s lost her mind. To verify her sanity, she agrees to help Ollie find his killers. Ollie, Nora, and Mugsy, the pug dog, conduct an investigation which leads them on a merry romp into the illegal side of the human body-parts trade, as well as the dark underbelly of the funeral business. They encounter creepy mortuary workers, graveyard ghosts, and a few brushes with the law—antics which underscore a common truism: adversity is the wellspring of humor. It’s all in the delivery.

Psyched Out – M.A. MacAfee

Score: 40
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

What Worked: For the most part, I enjoyed this book. It was cleverly written, and the premise is definitely something I wouldn't normally pick up on my own. It's unique, witty, and clever. It takes on a new kind of underground world. Through the help of Nora, dear Ollie is able to accomplish quite a bit, and there are some nice twists and turns. The novel is well written, quirky, and the characters are diverse and each have a personality of their own. I especially like how the author combines the canine world with the human one. There are animal instincts mixed with the human ones, and how to find that balance. Oh, and crazy pet outfits are a wonderful humorous touch.

What Didn't Work: Some of the background information was just kind of thrown in there. It would have been nice to see a bit more build up, or more narrative explaining things. All of a sudden I find out our hero is doing something with another character that I hadn't expected. It's hard to describe without giving away spoilers, but just know some of the events come out of the blue. I also didn't like our hero too much, but I didn't take points or penalize the author for that personal preference. I would love to see more sensory development too with his canine body. The world looks and smells different as a dog. For the most part the emotions are touched on well, but I'd have loved to “see” more through his eyes.

Overall: I was entertained. I generally don't pick up books like this on my own, but I'm glad I decided to give this one a review because it was fun. If you're in the mood for something light, funny, quirky, and unique, then I would pick this up. It's a fun mystery with a lot of good wit.

***I got this book for free from the author for the purpose of review***

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Healer's Dance

"The Healer's Dance" by Jeanette Raleigh
Points: 95
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis “The wind-goddess sent me a dream of your death. I came to save you.”

The first time Stefan hears these words, he laughs. After Emily’s warning saves his life, Stefan invites her to travel with him. He draws ever closer to the prairie woman whose lonely life as an outcast leaves her unfit for society while her gifts have forced her to interact with those she must save.

Stefan and Emily are pulled into a passionate and endearing love, but Emily is kidnapped and Stefan must use all of his wits to save her

What Worked: The premise was cool. I like the ideas of the clans, the main characters seemed well fleshed out too. There was a lot of unique magic, political systems, and other story elements. The plot twists were enough to make me feel for the characters, and I especially loved the romance story between the two main characters. I don't want to spoil it, but to have a love so pure and real? Was a nice treat to read about for a change. It did feel real. The chemistry, and how they go about their romance, was just basically perfect.

What Didn't: The writing could use a little tightening, but Raleigh definitely knows how to tell a good story. With some cleaning up, she will further become more amazing at the craft. There were some setting details that weren't detailed. I assumed this was high fantasy given the content though, and imagined a sort of middle earth kind of atmosphere. Another thing that kind of bummed me out was that instead of detailing in the narrative more about the clans and how they function with the "seconds" and all that, it just given in an author's note blurb at the beginning. I would have loved to see even more of the clan in action, and really dive into their culture.

Over all? It was a fun read. I'd recommend this for anyone who wants something clean, full of adventure, and looking for a rather epic quest with relate-able characters. I especially am looking forward to seeing if there is another book coming out.