August 26, 2017

Janet McNally: "Girls in the Moon"

Title: Girls in the Moon [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Janet McNally [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary
Year: 2016
Age: 12+
Stars: 2.5
Pros: Lyrical writing. A love letter to New York and music.
Cons: Relies on a bunch of stereotypes when it comes to characters - even those who are relatable sound too refined to ring true. Conflicts get resolved too easily, or are ultimately glossed over. Both the setting and the music scene are painted with rounded edges, which detracts from believability. Not much happens. 
Will appeal to: Those who like quiet stories with a coming-of-age angle and a cute romance.

Blurb: Everyone in Phoebe Ferris’s life tells a different version of the truth. Her mother, Meg, ex-rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story - the post-fame calm that Phoebe’s always known. Her sister Luna, indie rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn’t like. And her father, Kieran, the co-founder of Meg’s beloved band, hasn’t said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago. But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she’s determined to find out how she fits into this family of storytellers, and maybe even to continue her own tale - the one with the musician boy she’s been secretly writing for months. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: I thought this book would be the next Luna-C for me (WHICH YOU HAVE TO READ NOW, THANK ME LATER). Heck, both of them even have a main character named Phoebe (because, reasons) and a moon reference in the title/band name. Boy, was I wrong.

MEET CUTE

So, back in 2016, everyone and their dog was raving about this book. I meen, not literally EVERYONE, but those who had read an ARC were in rapture or something. The few who weren't mainly complained about the book being uneventful, which didn't sound like a big deal to me, since I can enjoy a quiet narrative, provided it's deep. And GITM seemed to qualify. This resulted in my 1) putting this book at the top of my TBR list and 2) ultimately purchasing a HARDCOVER copy, because I didn't want to wait till the paperback was released.
Now, I know part of my disappointment in GITM is due to great expectations gone sour. I can't honestly say it is a BAD book, and the writing is lyrical enough without getting purple - conversely, I would say that there's nothing overwritten or convoluted about it. But the thing is, I no longer have patience with books (or media in general) that perpetuate stereotypes or don't try to break ground in some way. For all its superficial pleasantness, GITM relies on characters and occurrences that we are very much familiar with, and doesn't seem to want to turn them upside down. So, what we ultimately get is a bland coming-of-age story, a too-cute-for-this-world romance, and a bunch of potentially dramatic (or wait, not really) situations/conflicts that either get resolved in a hour or two or are very much glossed over. [...]

August 20, 2017

James Wymore & Aiden James: "Fractured Earth"

Title: Fractured Earth [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: The Actuator (1st of 4 books, but there's also a set of short stories which is Book 1.5)
Author: James Wymore [Site | Goodreads] & Aiden James
[Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Year: 2013
Age: It's marketed as an adult book, but it can be read by teens without any problem
Stars: 3.5/5
Pros: Creative premise. Breathless adventure, though there's a time for reflection as well. Constant change of scenery.
Cons: Essentially a "male" book, though at least a female character plays a somewhat bigger role. Would have benefited from a little character backstory, or better, interaction, before chaos ensued. Some convenient occurrences. A handful of (harmless) typos that apparently escaped revision.
Will appeal to: Alternate realities enthusiasts. RPG fans. Readers who get bored easily.

Blurb: On a secret military base, a dangerous machine lies hidden from the American public. Known as “The Actuator”, this machine is capable of transforming entire communities into alternate realities. In theory, these often terrifying realities are reversible. The scientists in charge of this machine employ operatives called Machine Monks. Experiments progress to where they feed more than twenty different genre ideas simultaneously into the Actuator’s database. Meanwhile, an unknown saboteur dismantles the dampeners. The effect is catastrophic. The entire world is plunged into chaos, and familiar landscapes become a deadly patchwork of genre horrors. Can a few surviving Machine Monks band together to set things right again? It all depends on whether Red McLaren and the Monks can survive their journey through the various realms that separate them from the Actuator, where ever-present orcs, aliens, pirates, and vampires seek to destroy them. (Amazon excerpt)

Review:  First off...DISCLAIMER: I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased. It's just that they have so many (sometimes underrated) gems under their belt.

CROSS-WORLD PUZZLE

The premise of this book (well, series) is fantastic, and I couldn't resist its pull. Although not a fantasy aficionado or a role-player, I always enjoy a story where reality as we know it gets upended and pretty much anything can happen, all while the characters have to navigate a suddenly unfamiliar landscape. In a sense, I got more than I bargained for with Fractured Earth. The characters embark on a journey to set things right that causes them to cross a number of different "realms", each one with its rules and dangers, where the very things they bring with them or travel on (not to mention their own physical appearance) can change drastically - sometimes with quite funny or downright weird results. For some reason, I didn't expect the straight-up fantasy/historical angle to be so prevalent, but the story as a whole was enthralling and kept me going, and I'm sure those readers who are more into fantasy and history than me will be delighted. [...]

August 15, 2017

A.W. Hill & Nathanael Hill: "The Switch" (ARC Review)

Title: The Switch [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: A.W. Hill & Nathanael Hill [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Multiverse
Year: 2017
Age: 12+
Stars: 4.5/5
Pros: Rich, impassioned tale where science (real and potential) meets philosophy, adventure, danger, friendship and a touch of romance. Characters with authentic voices who get under your skin.
Cons: Might require a re-read in order to grasp all the concepts. Some of the alternate realities are not accounted for.
Will appeal to: Those who like to rack their brains. Those who are in for a great adventure with a number of twists (well...switches 😉) and a lot of soul.

Blurb: Jacobus is a fifteen year-old who believes - as many fifteen year-olds do - that his life could use improvement. School is a numbing routine, and his parents’ marriage seems to be imploding before his eyes. Lured by his best friend into a strange little house containing nothing but empty rooms and an oversized circuit breaker, he’ll discover that reality comes in a plural form, and that our choices create a continuous web of branching worlds, any of which is as ‘real’ as another. A solo odyssey becomes a duo, a trio, and then a quartet, as Jacobus befriends other interdimensional travelers along the way. THE SWITCH is the story of their journey home. The question is: if they get there, will it be the same place they left behind? (Goodreads excerpt)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I am a semi-regular reviewer of Curiosity Quills titles (like this one), but if you look back at my ratings, this never prevented me from being unbiased. It's just that they have so many (sometimes underrated) gems under their belt.

RARE FIND

As a reader, multiverse is one of the genres I'm most interested in. But it's so rare to find a book that - though still leaving you with questions - plays it right and at least tries to explain the gist of it, all while having you ride along with a great cast of characters. The Switch does just that. It relies on many theories - some of them I understand are scientific material - and they are great to read, if not all easy to grasp or always making total sense...but at its core, this book is a celebration of human curiousity and courage, genuine friendship, and a reminder that choices always bear a weight, no matter how many universes you visit. I would be tempted to say The Switch is also one of those books that close the gap between YA and MG - it's clean but not artfully so, some of its characters are slightly younger than your average YA, and it's the kind of adventure that plays like a videogame, with each "level" getting increasingly complicated. On the other hand, some of the concepts this story is built on and around are - as I said - not easy to grasp. I'll say that this one can be enjoyed by younger kids, but will be better savoured by teens and even adults...like me 😉. [...]

August 11, 2017

Book Blitz: "I Stop Somewhere" by T.E. Carter (with Excerpt)


  Welcome to the I Stop Somewhere book blitz!
 
Today is my stop for the book blitz regarding I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter. This book blitz is organized by Chapter by Chapter, and it runs from 7 till 11 August. I Stop Somewhere will be released on 2/27/18 from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan in the US and on 5 April 2018 from Simon & Schuster in the UK. For those who need to get their bearings, this novel is described as "The Lovely Bones meets All the Rage". After the page break, you'll find all the book vitals, plus an excerpt and a giveaway! But first let me reiterate a small detail...I never do promo posts unless it's a book/author I'm familiar with, or a book I want to read. This one made my TBR list, so without further ado, and with thanks to Chapter by Chapter, here goes...